Singapore Little India Riot 2013 - What lessons for our children?

Singapore Little India Riot 2013 - What lessons for our children?

The Singapore Little India riot shook and shocked many of us. Leaving one man dead and many others injured - we ask, what important lessons should we be passing on to our children?

The riot in Little India on Sunday, 8 December shocked Singapore. We were deeply shaken by this first ever public riot since the Hock Lee bus riots of 1955.

This is a safe place. A good place to raise children. Safe and trouble free. And it is, in the most part, as the rarity of the event shows. But there is obviously discontent beneath the surface.

Is this about race, as so many netizens have made it? Unlikely. Although it has surfaced a great deal of racist undertones in Singapore society.

Singapore Little India Riot 2013, what lessons for our children

Vehicles overturned and on fire during the Little India Riot. Photo source:

Disappointingly after decades of racial harmony campaigns, the first reactions to the riot have been undeniably racist. Every Indian in Singapore seems to have become a rioter or have insights into their behaviour, in the eyes of Singapore’s netizens. We won’t repeat any of their delightful prose here. You’ve probably read them already.

Is it about migrant workers? Perhaps. The way we treat the men and women who come from poorer nations to make ours even more prosperous is bordering on shameful. By and large, they are treated as second-class citizens and this is widely accepted as being the norm. A minister speaking to the press said it was not about us and them. But unfortunately, that might be exactly how many see it.

Singapore Little India Riot 2013, what lessons for our children

Aftermath of Little India riot. Photo source:

Is it about law and order? Most definitely. Saakthivel Kumaravelu was killed. Property was damaged. People were hurt. 27 have been arrested. 24 from India, 2 from Bangladesh and 1 Singapore PR. This illegal behaviour should be prosecuted, regardless of the reasons or the perpetrators.

Is it about the dangers of Little India? Perhaps we are developing ghettos in Singapore after all. Most Singaporeans don’t go to Little India on Sunday or late at night because they perceive it to be unsafe. Perhaps there are other little corners of Singapore that are developing a bit of a seedy reputation too?

Video footage of the riot from :

RELATED: Teach your children important lessons in respecting others!

Find out what we should be teaching our children on the next page!

So what will you do? What will you teach your children this week?

Will you teach your children that Indians are dangerous, migrant workers are second class citizens and that they are more likely to break the law than law abiding Singaporeans? Or do you teach them something greater?

That when we treat people unfairly, when they have no outlet for their frustration and when their dignity has been trampled upon too often, that we shouldn’t be surprised that violence is the outcome.

Singapore Little India Riot 2013, what lessons for our children?

That the secret might be to treat others as you would be treated. To have some empathy for our fellow human beings, regardless of their color.

As a parent with a child of mixed race, my goal is to raise him to be color blind. I surround him with people of all colors and backgrounds. I do not allow him to disrespect anyone. He is raised in privilege (as most children in Singapore are) and I teach him to recognise the privilege and that with privilege comes responsibility.

RELATED: Bring your child up colour blind! 

Singapore Little India riot

I took my son to pre-school yesterday after a bout of HFMD and he was greeted by his little friends who came up and hugged him. One blonde girl, a Korean boy and an Indian boy all told him that they missed him. I feel blessed to live in such a multi-cultural place and to be able to raise my son in this international environment.

I respect our differences and our individuality. I encourage all parents to make a conscious effort to do this with your children. Have these important conversations with them, even when they are young. Perhaps, especially when they are young. Don’t take it for granted and don’t leave it to schools. Our children take their lead from us. If we show respect to others, so will they.

RELATED: Compassion in your child – show them how! 


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