Lessons From The Riot @ Race Course Road.

by Patrick Liew on December 11, 2013

On Sunday, 8 December 2013, I read about the riot while posting a ‘Good Night’ message to my fb friends.

I would not have known about this incident if I did not step into cyberspace.

Once again, the social media has proven to be an important tool of communication.

It has turned virtually every netizen into somewhat of a journalist and hopefully, a responsible one.

Information, both true and perceived
have become accessible on our finger tips.

I switched on the television to watch the video of the riot being replayed again and again.

My disbelief turned into horror when I saw how humans could be turned into mobsters. How they could go on a path of violent and destructive behavior.

To many who have grown up in the peaceful era of Singapore, it  would be a shock to see the riot happening on our soil.

People of my generation might be reminded that there was a time when we had similar incidents on our streets.

The authorities had to call for a curfew on a regular basis.

Many of us had to bring canned food to be stored in our school in case we were not able go home during an emergency.

While watching the riot on the screen, it reminded me of the challenging times that we had to go through to build our nation.

Indeed, we have come a long way.

That’s why, while I resent what had happened, I also feel that the price that we paid for the riot should not be allowed to go to waste.

We need to draw useful lessons from it to help us resolve future challenges.

All of us have power to a certain extent. We carry responsibilities and we make choices about our thoughts, words, and actions.

We need to know that power, responsibility, and choices have consequences.

While we cannot control the situation, we can control our response to it.

We can rise up from the situation and leverage on it to become more united, vigilant, and proactive in resolving challenges.

How we respond to it will determine how matured and disciplined we are as a community. It can also be the litmus test of whether we are truly a cultured and educated people.

Before we change anything, the first person that needs to be changed is myself.

In such a situation, we need to remain calm at heart, cool in our emotion, and collected in our thought process.

Emotion has a way of clouding our rational mind. The increase in anger will only cause a decrease in our intelligence and better judgement.

It may cause us to do things that we may regret subsequently.

It is sad that at the heat of the riot, there were many negative comments being circulated, including jokes about foreign workers, race, and the authorities.

To the perpetrators, it might be funny and entertaining. However, to others, it might be hurting and provocative.

Some of these comments are not only insensitive, they have the potential to invoke major mischief and negative repercussion.

If history is a good teacher, we should have learned that such remarks may cause unnecessary public alarm, fear and negative reaction.

They can fan anger, hatred, and xenophobia. It may start a cycle of more hatred and even violence.

Starting a riot online is not much better than participating in a riot on the streets.

The natural tendency for us is to ignore these comments.

A better alternative is to rebut and rebuke them so as to ensure they do not escalate to become a diabolical spiral that is beyond our control.

The foreign workers in our midst are generally law-abiding people.They are in Singapore to make a living and to support their families in their home countries.

They have helped to build our homes and infrastructure, the benefits of which are being enjoyed by Singaporeans on a daily basis.

They have done their part to contribute to the economy and society. Let’s not react negatively to them and in fact, let’s treat them well and with respect.

We should continue to live our life normally.

This incident should not be allowed to undermine our confidence in the authorities and society.

We should not allow negative incidents to affect us negatively.

This riot makes me more desirous of
peace and being a peace-maker. Without such a commitment, there can be no peace in and around my life.

Every one of us can do our part and do more to strengthen Singapore.

It is my hope that how we respond to  this incident will be held up as a model to the world.

It will reflect on our spirit and strength to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation.


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