Little India riot: What the international media reported

Most news outlets focused on the riots and the statements by the police -- except the Financial Times.

Martino Tan | December 9, 2013 @ 07:48 am


If we read about “Singapore” in the international news, it is usually about Singapore finishing top in rankings for economic measurements, education and the quality of life.

Imagine the reactions of overseas Singaporeans when they switched on the news or read their newspapers.

Yes, a riot in Singapore after 40 years. And it’s the top news article on sites such as the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times.

Below is a summary of the news coverage of the Little India riot last night, from 10 major news sites around the world:


1. BBC News


Who: The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the world’s oldest national broadcasting organisation, is a British public service broadcasting statutory corporation. Its main responsibility is to provide impartial public service broadcasting in the United Kingdom.

What: BBC (“Singapore bus death triggers riot“) reported that police in Singapore have arrested 27 South Asian suspects after hundreds of people took part in a riot sparked by the death of an Indian national. It also carried a video report (“Singapore bus death sparks riot“) of the riot.


2. The Wall Street Journal


Who: The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) is the largest newspaper in the US by circulation, with a special emphasis on business and economic news. It is published by News Corporation, along with the Asian and European editions.

What: WSJ (“Rare Riot Hits Singapore“) reported about the “rare riot” in Singapore, the first major outburst of public violence in more than four decades. It was one of the front page stories on WSJ online and one of the most read articles.

WSJ (“Shop Owners Clean Up Following Rare Singapore Riot“) followed up with a blog post on Little India and its shop owners, noting that shop owners in were busy Monday morning scrubbing away signs of a rare riot yesterday.


3. Financial Times


Who: The Financial Times (FT) is a British English-language international daily newspaper with a special emphasis on business and economic news internationally. The paper, published by Pearson PLC in London, also publishes the Economist news magazine.

What: FT (“Riot tarnishes Singapore’s image as place of ethnic harmony“) reported about how the riot tarnished Singapore’s image and connected the incident to another event that occurred on the same day – the PAP party conference. FT noted how PAP “has for months been appealing for greater social harmony in the wake of rising unease among Singaporeans over a recent influx of foreign workers, many of them immigrants from South Asia”. The article was the second most widely read article on FT today.


4. Bloomberg News


Who: Bloomberg News is an international news agency headquartered in New York, United States and a division of Bloomberg L.P.

What: Bloomberg (“Singapore Warns on Violence After Riot in Indian District“) reported PM Lee Hsien Loong’s quote in FB that those responsible for Singapore’s first riot in four decades would face “the full force of the law” after about 400 people were embroiled in violence in its Little India district. It also mentioned about Singapore’s reliance on foreign workers, noting the illegal strike by Chinese nationals last November.


5. Bernama


Who: Bernama, a news agency of the Malaysian government, is an autonomous body placed under the Ministry of Communication and Multimedia.

What: Bernama (“Singapore PM Says Government To Deal With Culprits Of Little India Riots“) reported PM Lee’s remarks, where he described the Little India riots on Sunday night as a ‘very grave incident’ and said the government will spare no effort to identify the culprits and deal with them with the full force of the law.


6. The Star


Who: The Star is the largest English newspaper in terms of circulation in Malaysia.

What: The Star (“Singapore riot: 27 South Asian arrested“) reported that 27 men from South Asia were arrested in connection with Sunday night’s riot in Little India, which apparently started after a bus ran over and killed an Indian worker as he was crossing a road. It focused on Commissioner of Police Ng Joo Hee’s remarks that 300 police officers were activated to contain the rioters. It also noted Commissioner Ng’s comments that no Singaporean was involved in the riot and such acts were “not the Singapore way”.


7. The Guardian


Who: The Guardian is a British national daily newspaper that publishes all their news online, with free access both to current news and an archive of three million stories. It is the second most popular UK newspaper website.

What: Guardian (“Riot breaks out in Singapore’s Little India neighbourhood“) reported from Associated Press about the riots, noting that “such violence is unheard of in Singapore, an orderly, modern city-state known for strict punishments for crime and generally law-abiding citizens”. It reported that Channel News Asia showed dramatic pictures of burning vehicles and people attacking the windshield of a bus with sticks and refuse bins.

8. Sydney Morning Herald


Who: Founded in 1831, the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) is the oldest continuously published newspaper in Australia.

What: Sydney Morning Herald (“Migrant workers riot in Singapore, 18 hurt“) reported that about 400 South Asian migrant workers angered by a road accident battled police and set vehicles ablaze in Singapore’s worst rioting in decades, leaving 18 people injured.


9. South China Morning Post

Who: The South China Morning Post (SCMP) is the first English-language Hong Kong newspaper, published by the SCMP Group with a circulation of 104,000.

What: SCMP (“27 arrested after Little India riot in Singapore“) reported that the Singapore police have arrested 27 South Asian suspects after a riot broke out. It focused on PM Lee and Commissioner Ng’s remarks that those involved will be arrested and face “the full force of the law”.

10. The Hindu


Who: The Hindu is the third most widely-read English newspaper in India (after the Times of India and Hindustan Times), with a readership of 2.2 million people. The Hindu has its largest base of circulation in southern India, and is the most widely-read English daily newspaper in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

What: The Hindu (“Riot hits Singapore’s Little India“) reported that “Singapore was rocked by rare rioting”, as hundreds of foreign workers overturned police cars and burned vehicles following a fatal road accident. It noted the police statement that officers in riot gear, including members of the elite Gurkha unit, were sent to control the situation on Sunday night.


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About Martino Tan

Martino’s parents named him after an Italian priest, Vatican's 1st ambassador to S’pore. He's inspired by the lives of Robert Kennedy & Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the words of George Orwell & William F. Buckley Jr., & the music of the Beatles.

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