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Alcohol ban will affect hundreds of businesses in S'pore
Publication Date : 13-12-2013
The alcohol ban in Little India, Singapore, this weekend will cover 374 establishments over a large part of the Serangoon Road area.
The affected area is as large as Gardens By The Bay, and includes the popular City Square Mall and Mustafa Centre, as well as hotels, pubs, numerous eateries, coffee shops, liquor shops and 24-hour convenience stores.
Nobody is allowed to sell or consume alcohol in the roughly 1.1 sq km zone which has been declared a "proclaimed area" under the Public Order (Preservation) Act for the weekend.
This means anyone who is drunk or disorderly in the area can be arrested for being a public nuisance, said Deputy Commissioner of Police T. Raja Kumar.
"If the person is completely drunk and rowdy, police may take action to arrest the person," he said.
"But some may not have realised it because the news of the ban hasn't percolated down to the last person. Our officers will tell them, if you are cooperative and throw away the alcohol or walk out of the area, that is fine."
In a joint statement, the police, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and Land Transport Authority (LTA) highlighted the need "to calm and stabilise the situation" following last Sunday night's riot.
"This will also allow police to assess the next steps in consultation with the various stakeholders for a more permanent intervention to ensure that a repeat of last Sunday's riot does not occur, and to restore the sense of safety and security for residents, shopkeepers, visitors and other stakeholders in the area," it said.
The riot, sparked by a traffic accident that killed a 33-year-old Indian national, left 39 Home Team officers injured and 25 police and Singapore Civil Defence Force vehicles damaged. Some of the 400 rioters were said to have been drunk at the time.
Yesterday, four more Indian nationals were charged in court, bringing the total facing charges for the incident to 31.
The message ringing out loud and clear on Thursday was that foreign workers should keep away from Little India this weekend.
The LTA has suspended 25 private bus services this Sunday that would normally have ferried thousands of men to Little India, where they usually spend their days off.
It will put public buses and trains on standby in case additional capacity is needed.
MOM urged major operators of foreign workers' dormitories to provide more recreational activities to keep the men within their living quarters.
"The combined efforts by the authorities are to enable the community to cool off and reflect on what happened," said the joint statement.
Speaking to reporters in Seoul, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said this weekend's measures will be just the first step in ensuring order and safety in the area. The Government will look at how transport flow can be made safer and speed up moves to curb the drinking problem in the area.
The police said that in deciding the next steps, they will have to weigh the interests of various groups.
"Even after we have lifted the alcohol ban, there will in most likelihood continue to be certain restrictions on the sale of alcohol, and certain areas where alcohol consumption will not be allowed," the statement said.
Understandably, affected establishments were unhappy. "We wait all week just to get the weekend crowd. The ban will hit our businesses hard," said Ajay Maddila, director of Zsofi Tapas Bar in Dunlop Street.
Businessman Loo Aik Seng, 53, a resident for 32 years, called the suspension of bus services a pity. "There is nowhere else in Singapore for the workers to mingle and buy their groceries. The businesses here will also be unfairly penalised," he said.