You don't have to be in Little India to feel like a minority. Go to Lucky Plaza, and be magically transported to Makati, Manila, where you can have your halo-halo dessert instead of chendol. Wander into Peninsula Plaza, and find yourself surrounded by shops with signage in quaint Burmese script, offering exotic products and services. Vietnamese comprise 27 per cent of the population in postcode 2166, Sydney's southwestern suburb of Cabramatta, and Beach Road, Singapore, seems destined to bear semblance of such a build up. Geylang is no longer just a Red-light Designated Area (RDA), it is also a place where PRCs are fast dominating the eating houses.
At what point in a suburb's development does the presence of a demographic group stop being cultural diversity and start being an enclave? In "Hard Truths", the question was asked: Singapore has allowed so many foreigners in, in a fairly short time, for economic and demographic reason. How do we balance that with the social costs that are becoming quite obvious? The callous answer provided:
"Well, there's a sense of discomfort. Suddenly you hear a different twang when they speak in Mandarin or you hear Indians speaking not Tamil but Hindi and they look somewhat different, and sometimes very different. It's unavoidable."
We can also surmise that the conflagration at Little India was unavoidable. All we need is a little spark for the melting pot to transform into a cauldron boiling over. Accidents are a common feature in our congested city, even little old ladies get run over by reversing public vehicles at bus interchanges. There's more to the eye in the Sunday night flare up.
"People destroy out of frustration (the frustration-aggression hypothesis). When people find they cannot achieve their goals as something is blocking them, they become frustrated. Among young men this frustration is expressed through anger and violence and in extreme cases, rioting. When people feel that the world is screwing them over, they lash out at the world. Years of built up humiliations and failures form into resentment and alienation. This last point is crucial; alienation means people no longer feel attached society. They feel that society has done nothing for them so they no longer feel any responsibility towards other members of society."
("What Causes Riots", Thanks, anon at 12/10/2013 12:16 AM)
What we don't need in a high tension environment is loose talk by bigoted individuals reading the riot act indiscriminately. Chiam See Tong spoke for all of us when he challenged Chan's war cry, “do battle everywhere as necessary” and not concede physical and cyber space to get their message across. Chiam calmly asked, "Will the Minister similarly apologise for stating his intention to do battle against the voices of the people?"