SINGAPORE (TIP): Rattled by the December 8 riots in Little India, the Singapore government now plans a nationwide restriction on consumption of liquor in public places.
Deputy PM Teo Chee Hean, who also handles home affairs, told the Singapore Parliament on Monday that the government is reviewing processes to tighten liquor control in areas where large number of foreign workers congregate. There are 1.2 million foreign workers in Singapore. Nearly three lakh Indian workers are employed in the construction industry alone.
Post the riots, for which 25 migrant workers were charged and 57 deported, the police imposed a total ban on sale and public consumption of alcohol in public areas in Little India. While the government has allowed retail outlets (330 liquor licences issued in the 1.1sq km area of Little India) to sell alcohol up to 8pm, it cannot be consumed in public areas. Singapore officials said the riot had brought into focus the country’s lax liquor laws that allowed alcohol to be consumed in public places.
“No other country allows such public consumption of alcohol. It is highly retrograde and we need to put a stop to it,” said J Devan, the government’s chief communicator. In Parliament, deputy PM Hean said the ministry of home affairs had in October begun consultations on proposals to restrict sale and public consumption of alcohol. “We will draw on the experience with measures taken in Little India and take in views of stakeholders as well as any findings and recommendations from the commission of inquiry. The full set of liquor control measures will be announced when they are ready,” Hean said.