SINGAPORE: A temporary alcohol ban in Little India started on Saturday following the riot that broke out on December 8.
As the government mulls over whether to extend the ban further, it is also taking steps to improve the welfare of foreign workers.
Speaking to reporters in Tokyo at the end of the ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit on Saturday, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said a substantial number of dormitories will be built over the next two to three years to better house foreign workers.
Even as authorities tighten the inflow of foreign workers over the years, Mr Lee said their population needs to be managed, and there is an on-going inter-ministerial committee that looks into their welfare.
He elaborated: "One of the focuses was to try our best to see how we could speed up the construction of more dorms, so that the workers who are now housed in HDB estate or private properties, which have been rented out, they can be put in proper dorms. Then I think they can be better taken care of and there can be less impact on the community."
Over the past few days, Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam has been visiting several dormitories.
Mr Lee added there is also no evidence to show that the riot was caused by the lack of support for foreign workers.
He said: "We believe that foreign workers in Singapore ought to be treated fairly and properly. We do not stand for ill treatment or unfair treatment of foreign workers. We have to make sure they are well treated, they are paid properly on time, their safety is taken care of, their living conditions are up to standard, and they are given full protection of the law."
Mr Lee also addressed concerns raised by businesses affected by the alcohol ban this weekend.
He said: "We don't want anything to go wrong this week. So to make absolutely sure, we have a ban which covers quite a big area. And we said just no alcohol this week, and just calm down, cool down, and make sure things are back to normal.
“After that, we can calibrate and establish new rules. It would take some time to make out what the final rules will be, but I think we should have interim rules after this week. There is a downside to that timeout so everybody feels that and the timeout cannot last forever."
The ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol covers 1.1 square kilometres in the Serangoon Road area -- the scene of the riot on December 8. - CNA/gn
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