Singapore MP Denise Phua calls foreign workers in Little India 'walking time bombs'

Denise Phua said her constituents in Jalan Besar GRC should be "protected" from the expatriate workers.

Singapore parliamentarian Denise Phua referred to foreign workers in the Little India area as "walking time-bombs," drawing ire from expatriate workers.

Phua made the disparaging comment during a parliament discussion on the budget. She said her constituents in Jalan Besar GRC should be "protected" from the expatriate workers and that community amenities in Little India like playgrounds and void decks should be fenced-off from foreign workers.

She likened the Little India situation to the December 2013 riots, saying crowds in the area have grown to the levels during the riot.

Phua called for demarcation that allows "the old and young can get to use the space meant for them" and to protect people from "the disamenities that can arise from large gatherings".

"Congregations of such high density are walking time-bombs and public disorder incidents waiting to happen," the MP for Jalan Besar GRC said.

Phua apologised after her remark caused an uproar and netizens called for her dismissal. Some Singaporeans said her comments incited racial hatred and were derogatory to foreign workers.

Some users of social media even likened her to the gaffe-prone US presidential candidate Donald Trump, who shoots off indiscriminate comments on political opponents and racial and religious minorities.

In her apology, Phua said she did not intend to hurt anyone. 'I personally get along very well with the foreign cleaners in my constituency. To them and the other foreign workers in our country, thank you for your help and please accept my sincere apology if I have caused you concern," she said.

"I should not have used the phrase "walking time-bombs" to describe congregations of high density.'

Indians in Singapore account for close to 10 percent of the population. Chinese are the largest group accounting for nearly 75 percent of the population.