Plan to ban alcohol in some public areas

Plan to ban alcohol in some public areas

SINGAPORE - In a bid to curb public nuisance caused by drinking, the Government is considering a ban on the consumption of alcohol at common areas, including void decks and parks, while reducing the number of hours shops can sell liquor.

Public places such as outside Robertson Quay nightspots and Little India, where people tend to gather and drink, could also end up being turned into temporary no-alcohol zones to arrest the problems of noise, littering, vomiting and even fighting.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which wants public feedback on these proposals by Dec 31, said on Monday that "it is looking at targeted measures on liquor sale and consumption".

In recent years, Members of Parliament and residents have raised concerns about the problems posed by public drinking, said MHA. Comparing no-alcohol areas to no-smoking zones, Aljunied grassroots organisations adviser David Tay said a ban would ensure that people "won't get disturbed by those who get tipsy and rowdy".

Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Indranee Rajah has, since 2011, been pushing for no-alcohol zones at her constituency, which includes Robertson Quay.

"If we don't (implement the rules), the police can't do anything. If they go up to a drinker and ask him to move away, he can turn around and ask, 'On what basis?'" she told The Straits Times.

Robertson Quay residents are glad that action is being taken. Housewife Tracy Evans, 52, who lives on the 30th floor of a condominium next to the Zouk nightclub, said it is noisy even at 5am. "I can't imagine what it is like for people on lower floors."

The Singapore Nightlife Business Association proposed similar measures to the authorities in August in a bid to tackle the problems of drunks at Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay.

Its president Dennis Foo, who is also chief executive of St James Holdings, which manages several clubs, believes convenience stores in these areas should not sell alcohol after sunset.

He said: "They sell cheap alcohol, which gets people heavily intoxicated, and the bars get the brunt of the law-and-order issues."

Currently, retail outlets in residential estates or commercial districts can apply for a licence to sell alcohol for 24 hours a day. Those at mixed zones can sell alcohol from 6am to 3am on weekdays, and 6am to 4am on Saturdays and eve of public holidays.

The Government is asking the public to consider ending alcohol sales as early as 10pm, midnight or 2am, for instance.

A spokesman for Dairy Farm Singapore, which manages 7-Eleven stores, said it will support any move to shorten hours for alcohol sales even if it "may invariably have an impact on our convenience store business".

Members of the public who want to give feedback can do so through the Reach website.

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