Channel NewsAsia
Updated: 12/18/2013 17:43 | By Channel NewsAsia

Little India alcohol ban to continue for up to 6 months

Little India alcohol ban to continue for up to 6 months

Little India alcohol ban to continue for up to 6 months

SINGAPORE: The ban on alcohol consumption in public areas of Little India will continue for up to six months, until the Committee of Inquiry makes its recommendations.

The police announced this at a media conference on Wednesday, adding the ban will be in force every weekend, public holiday and eve of public holiday.

The police said it has good reason to believe that alcohol consumption and intoxication in public areas had contributed to the riot at Little India on December 8.

But shops in the zone holding retail and wholesale licences will be able to sell alcohol, though for shorter hours.

The retail hours are from 6am to 8pm on weekends, eve of public holidays and on public holidays.

The move will affect 134 outlets such as liquor shops and convenience stores.

The police said this will stop customers from having "easy access" to alcohol during peak crowd periods.

Police said one of the considerations was finding an appropriate balance between the various competing interests of businesses and residents at Little India.

As such, feedback from various stakeholders was taken into consideration.

For establishments like restaurants, hotels, pubs and coffee shops holding public house and beer house licences, the ban on sale and consumption of alcohol will be lifted.

But consumption must be within their premises. This will affect about 240 outlets.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Raja Kumar said: "We would encourage as a best practice for the hawkers who are selling alcohol to basically not sell unopened bottles of beer. So you will know it's going to be then consumed there and then."

25 Little India bus services run by private bus operators will resume this Sunday, but at half the number of scheduled buses for a start.

This will reduce the number of people ferried to Little India from 20,000 to 10,000-12,000.

DC Kumar said: "These measures are likely to remain in place for the time being, with adjustments at the margins as we take stock of the situation after this weekend and over the rest of the month.

“Specifically for the alcohol-related measures, we will also refer to findings from the ongoing public consultation on liquor sale and consumption at public places and the COI findings and recommendations.”

The police will continue to maintain a strong presence in Little India.

The Manpower Ministry said it is encouraging the major dormitory operators to provide more recreational activities for its residents.

Some dormitories will be organising movie screenings this weekend.

It is hoped this will provide workers alternative ways to relax and enjoy themselves on their rest days.

The police also said they take a serious view of assault complaints and will investigate thoroughly.

A group of civil society volunteers had earlier called for investigations, after it said workers who were remanded had complained of police assault.

DC Kumar said: "If criminal charges are disclosed, the police will not hesitate to take criminal action against the errant officer concerned. However if the allegations are found to be false, appropriate action, in accordance with our laws, will be taken against any persons who have furnished false information to the police.”  - CNA/xq

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