Updated: 12/13/2013 18:01

K Shanmugam on Little India's alcohol ban



K Shanmugam on Little India's alcohol ban

Law and Foreign Minister K Shanmugam says the authorities are going the extra mile to ensure that Little India remains safe this weekend. 

He was explaining the rationale for the measures being taken such as the temporary ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol in the area. 

Speaking to reporters after a dialogue with some 300 foreign workers at the Simpang Lodge 1 dormitory on Thursday night.

Mr Shanmugam said the authorities are not taking any chances given the recentness of the riot last Sunday. 

"Primarily, because of the nearness in time, there is a possibility of copycat acts. So you take no chances. So you do much more than is necessary and if you're a resident in the area, you'll welcome it and if you're outside, you'll understand why, because this is really to protect the area, to protect the residents, so people will understand."

Mr Shanmugam also said that reports by international media - saying that foreign workers in the country are disaffected - need to be backed up with evidence. 

"What evidence is there for all this? That these workers were deeply disaffected and that is why the riot took place. I'm not saying you can't say it, but I would like to see some evidence to back up a fairly substantive statement like that. All I can see is assertions and the fact that you repeat the assertions doesn't make it a fact."

He said he had spoken to a number of workers during his dormitory visits and they shared with him that they like coming to Singapore as they can upgrade their skills. 

They also do not have complaints about their living conditions. 

The Minister addressed the concerns of the foreign wor kers during the dialogue. 

They had asked if the government will stop allowing Indian nationals working here - to which he answered it's just a rumour. 

The workers also suggested a total ban on alcohol. 

"I said we need to think carefully we can enforce it. You need to first think about what's practical and sensible. You can do localized bans to calm the situation down. Complete ban at all public places is not a feasible option."

Several other suggestions were made including improving the buses that transport workers and having more supermarkets or money transfer services near their dormitories. 

Mr Shanmugam also advised the workers to avoid going to Little India this weekend. 

-By Fann Sim

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