New liquor law in response to years of public outcry

New liquor law in response to years of public outcry

The new law to control the supply and consumption of liquor was conceived in response to years of consistent outcry from ordinary Singaporeans about public drunkenness encroaching on their public space, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said yesterday.

Speaking to 500 Nanyang Technological University students at a dialogue, Mr Teo disagreed with a student's comment that most people do not support the new law and that the Government did not adequately consult the public.

Passed by Parliament last week, the Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) Bill prohibits drinking in public places between 10.30pm and 7am and restricts the sale of takeaway alcohol.

MPs here have been receiving residents' complaints for years about late-night drinking in the common areas of public housing estates, said Mr Teo.

Some residents were so bothered that they petitioned MPs to tear down seating built originally for neighbourhood bonding, but which were now being used for late-night drinking.

"This is consistent feedback we have been getting from the ground over the last few years," he emphasised. "We needed to do something about it."

On the topic of public consultation, Mr Teo said the survey by government feedback unit Reach - which shows more than 80 per cent are supportive of the law - is more "well sampled and representative" than a Straits Times online poll that shows more than 75 per cent are against the law.

He also said the authorities often have difficulty getting people to respond. He earlier asked the 500 students to vote in a poll. Only 300 did.

In the 90- minute dialogue, he fielded questions ranging from retirement adequacy for the low-income to discrimination against foreigners. A student asked why single parents do not get the same housing subsidies as married couples.

Noting the rising trend of children born out of wedlock in societies around the world, Mr Teo said "my own view is that it's too early to tell whether this is positive or not". "Many societies have found that what is described as 'conventional' families have been conventionally successful in bringing up children.

"My own view is that we should continue to encourage family formation the 'conventional' way, (as) that gives us the highest likelihood of bringing up children who will be able to do well in life. In my own view, a stable, strong family system has got to be one of the bedrocks of a stable, strong society."

This article was first published on February 4, 2015.
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