April 22nd, 2010
09:22 AM ET

Alleged slur sparks violence at Indonesia shipyard

An alleged slur against an Indonesian worker sparked violence including the burning of cars seen here.

An Indian manager's alleged slur toward a Indonesian worker spurred violence at an Indonesian shipyard Thursday, leaving at least nine people injured and 12 cars burned, police said.

The incident took place at a shipyard at Drydocks World in Batam and security personnel deployed to the scene brought the situation under control. Batam is an island and a city near Singapore.

"It started when an Indian manager yelled 'stupid Indonesian' to an Indonesian worker," said national police representative Zainuri Lubis in a text message to CNN.

"Word caught on and it sparked the anger of around 5,000 other workers. They then attacked their employers and destroyed the buildings and cars."

Denis Welch, chief executive of Drydocks World Southeast Asia, said "what happened was criminal and we very much regret that it happened in one of our shipyards. We will work closely with the police and unions to investigate the circumstances and will take appropriate action when we understand the full extent of what happened and why."

Drydocks World Southeast Asia is part of the Dubai World group of companies.

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Filed under: Indonesia • World
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. H. P. F. VC

    Indian managers do not always treat their staff with enough respect and consideration, having said that these Indonesian workers are complete lunatics. By their actions they confirm the collective monstrous stupidity they were accused of in the first place. Hopefully I will be leaving Indonesia in the next few days and I won't be coming back, not for all the tea in China, what a ghastly, backward place this is.

    April 22, 2010 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  2. lee yin yin

    The indian mananger is in hospital, critically ill. The Indonesian police will not be making any arrests, as the police chief says that 'not one person' is at fault as the uprising was 'spontaneous'. The reporting of this incident in the indonesian media is painted as one of justified nationalistic outrage or as a reaction against 'racism'. The indian is at fault for losing his temper and shouting at a worker but the massive overreaction suggests something seriously wrong in the indonesian psyche.

    April 22, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Navindran

    I am utterly digusted with the remarks of the 2 posters. I challenge them to speak out as they do in this forum to the Indonesians in the street. Indonesians are probabily the nicest people in the world. The indian manager is incompetent. He was under pressure because his guys were not performing. He should have looked at a better way to improve the schedule and push the project forward.

    Remember they could have killed all the poeple in the yard from India. Do you wonder why Indians were attacked in Australia. My name is not a pseyundonum. Its my real name and I understand the Indian culture very well. I fully support what the Indonesian did. If you are not happy you can get the hell out of their country.

    April 22, 2010 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. N - H

    The overreaction may be seriously wrong, but from the local news in Indonesia that the accident is a result of accumulated anger from the local workers to the Indian workers which is said to be racist. There are already 3 "accidents" of racism happened before in Drydocks resulting 1 Indian workers to be fired. The local workers is quite hospitable usually, but the situation may be not the very best for them. We raise against violance but we also have to fight the racism.

    April 23, 2010 at 1:29 am | Report abuse |
  5. Steezburg

    The Portugese and British brought institutionalized racism (Caste System) to India in the 17th century. It has been a part of their society and culture for so long that it is just as routine as eating and breathing. Unfortunately, your cultural beliefs follow you where ever you go. The Indonesians over reacted, but I'm betting this was born from a buildup of frustrations. As a black man, this is something I can empathize with.

    Indians must work harder to undo many of the mental chains buried deep within if they truly desire to be a dominant, respected society and not just an opportunity for cheap labor.

    April 23, 2010 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
  6. Larry

    I assume that something more must be going on. If an Indian manager here said "stupid American" they'd get complaints to HR, workers wouldn't burn the factory down!

    April 23, 2010 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  7. Dermax

    Um, the Caste system has it's roots in the Hindu religion. It's been around for centuries, long before contact with the west. Can't blame the British on this one...

    April 23, 2010 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  8. Armando

    Steezburg, You got to stop reading those Black Power pamphlets!! Portuguese and British invented the caste system, free themselves from mental chains?! LOL!

    April 23, 2010 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jimmy Hatt

    Did the people perpetuating this violence just fight their way out of a job by destroying their own place of work?? If so, this would indicate a very dangerous level of frustration that would have to be building for quite some time before it erupted into this. Of course, if they are out of work now as a result of their own destruction it could not be considered a very smart move on their part

    April 23, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jay

    NO matter the level of frustrtion felt, this is an organized company with higher levels than the Indian manager. The spontanious violence is endemic of other held emotions that do not do them any good.

    Do they have a job today?? Do they have a workplace?? Will all of them realize the folly of uncontrolled anger?? Apparently, by the posts and the article, Indoneisia is an angry place and the people are touchy. The Indian manager is wrong in the first place, but the workers compounded the situation by frankly silly and stupid actions.

    April 23, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ann

    The Europeans did not bring the caste system to India. It was already in place and had been for a long time. The onlly thing you can blame the Europeans for is bringing India into the modern age–it would be absolutley nowhere with England.

    April 23, 2010 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ann

    "without England" Sorry for the obvious mistake.

    April 23, 2010 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Dustin

    My father has visited this shipyard several times as a consultant, and was scheduled to visit this coming week. According to him, while violence is reprehensible, the Indian managers at the facility regularly degraded their employees with an Indian caste system style of racism. Working conditions we not only very poor, but degrading on top of that. Again, while violence is usually reprehensible, Dry-docks World holds great responsibility in this matter by failing to choose and train even-handed middle managers. If working conditions are poor enough, workers can feel trapped and violence can be the result. In this situation, I am told that the violence was certainly an commensurate outcropping of the extremely poor and degrading working conditions Drydocks World created.

    April 23, 2010 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jack

    People! It doesn't matter who originates the Indian caste system. It's the fact that many Hindu embrace it and wouldn't let it go that is offensive to hell! It's uncivilized to the core!

    April 23, 2010 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Sir H. P. F. VC

    Navindran

    I'll run through a few of the points you've made as best I can:

    "I am utterly digusted with the remarks of the 2 posters" – I can see why my comments would anger someone who is quite fond of Indonesia, however what lee yin yin said seems entirely sensible and measured, clearly it does not take much to disgust you. A bit like the rioters I suppose.

    "I challenge them to speak out as they do in this forum to the Indonesians in the street" – Well that sounds ok in theory, but such a bold move would inevitably end of with a group of local hot heads ganging up (as they always do) and more than likely break my head open as a result.

    "Indonesians are probabily the nicest people in the world" – I have met some truly kind and sweet people here, having said that were I a manager at a dry dock in my home country, I would never have to worry about workers running amok and attempting to set fire to me for making a rude comments.

    "Remember they could have killed all the poeple in the yard from India" – Your ignorance is epic, I knew people barricaded on the third floor of the building that was set alight, workers were attempting to gain entry with axes and anything else available to them. Had it not been for the intervention of the police and military in their hundreds, – who escorted staff from the premises, who knows what would have taken place?

    "My name is not a pseyundonum. Its my real name and I understand the Indian culture very well" – I chose not to disclose my name as I consider it too dangerous, if I was in a civilised country as I write this I would be more than happy to reveal my true identity.

    "I fully support what the Indonesian did" – Well that says it all really, you are evidently as uneducated and easily disposed to violence as the bandits themselves.

    "If you are not happy you can get the hell out of their country." I thought I had clarified my intentions to leave Indonesia in my post, but thank you very much even so. I'd sooner swim in blood than return to Batam, the most mercenary community I've ever had the misfortune to visit.

    April 24, 2010 at 3:51 am | Report abuse |
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