Singapore reassures foreign workers that they can continue working

Nine days after its worst outbreak of violence in over 40 years, Singapore has reassured foreign workers, including Indians, that they will be allowed to continue working in the city-state as long as they do not break the law.

Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam reassured the workers, mostly South Asians, during his interaction with some 450 of them at a dormitory on Tuesday night, following the riot in Little India, an area frequented by South Asians.

The reassurance comes as 28 Indian nationals were being charged for allegedly participating in the riot on the night of December 8. The riot was triggered by the death of an Indian worker in an accident with a bus.

Singapore also began deporting 52 Indian nationals and one Bangladeshi national on Tuesday for being part of the riot and not obeying police orders.

They were also prohibited from returning to Singapore.

Police have warned 200 other South Asian workers, serving them formal police advisories for a "relatively passive" role in the riot and not causing obstruction or participating in the incident.

No further actions will be considered against the 200 workers and they will be allowed to continue working in Singapore. "Those who have no role in it (the riot), need not worry. They came here to work, earn some money and go back, they will be allowed to do that," Shanmugam said.

Shanmugam explained why an administrative rather than a judicial approach was being taken with regard to the repatriation process involving the 53 South Asian workers who were arrested on Tuesday.

He said, "If every case has got to go to court, and the judge makes a decision, then repatriation decisions become judicial rather than administrative, then every foreigner is entitled to stay here at tax payers' expense, housed at taxpayers' expense, it could stretch on a year more."

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