Updated: 12/12/2013 02:03

Residents and shopkeepers divided over ban



Residents and shopkeepers divided over ban

Residents and shopkeepers stand divided over the temporary ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol in Little India. 

The ban comes into effect this weekend, as a temporary measure to stabilise the situation after last Sunday's riot. 

Second Minister for Home Affairs S Iswaran has said that while it's too early to determine the cause of the riot, it's "plausible that alcohol consumption was a contributory factor". 

The news desk visits the neighbourhood to find out more. 

Shopkeepers were up in arms over the ban. 

One provision shop owner, P N Rajan, has been in business since 2007. 

His shop, Home of Spices, started out as a grocery shop on Kerbau Road. 

But it wasn't a viable business model, he says, and he eventually starting selling alcohol. 

"Nowadays they won't buy the vegetables, they won't buy the groceries. That's why we changed over to liquor. We can't do only one business. We must do two to three. Then only we can cover our costs." 

Liquor sales account for 60 per cent of his revenue, and covers a significant proportion of his monthly rent of $5,000. 

Even without the impending ban, Mr Rajan says business has already been affected by Sunday's riot. 

He claims that sales figures have fallen by some 40 per cent these two days, as compared to the same period last year. 

MP for Moulmein-Kallang GRC Edwin Tong admits that liquor shops may be affected by the move. 

He says that prohibition is a short-term solution, meant to calm emotions. 

"This not a recent initiative. Some warning has been given previously. It's just too many in that area, in terms of the number of vendors, and also the fact that they can sell alcohol throughout the day and into the night. And many of them consume alcohol and as you can see as you go past the place, many of them spill into the roads outside of the drinking areas. So that leads to a lot of rowdiness. We have to help them to transition with this and limit in terms of alcohol." 

Businesses may be less than thrilled about the ban but one Little India resident, 31-year-old Sindhu Peringeth, welcomes it with open arms. 

Sitting at the playground beside Tekka Market, her four-year-old son in her lap, the homemaker contemplates the ban. 

She says that the presence of drunkards in her neighbourhood is a bad influence on her son. 

"Every Saturday and Sunday, we cannot come out. We can but very crowded. We feel uncomfortable. The government should control all the consumption of liquor forever." 

-By Valerie Koh and Lee Gim Siong

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