Alcohol curbs tough but necessary, say MPs

Alcohol curbs tough but necessary, say MPs

SINGAPORE - Proposed measures to curb public drinking and the sale of alcohol may be tough, but they are necessary, said Members of Parliament yesterday.

Slightly more than half of the 40 people The Straits Times polled also supported the Bill, believing it will help to reduce public order issues in public spaces, such as around neighbourhood 7-Eleven stores.

But others argued that it was an unnecessary clampdown on personal freedom and could even create illegal channels to buy alcohol after 10.30pm.

Ms Denise Phua (Moulmein-Kallang GRC) said she was satisfied the proposed Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) Bill, which was introduced in Parliament yesterday, calls for a partial ban on public drinking and not a total ban, unlike in some other cities.

In New York, for instance, it is illegal to have an open container of alcohol while on a public sidewalk, on the road or in a park.

The new measures being planned ban drinking in public places here between 10.30pm and 7am. They also forbid retail shops from selling liquor from 10.30pm. Geylang and Little India will be designated Liquor Control Zones and have stricter rules.

Ms Phua, whose Kampong Glam ward covers the Little India area, said: "I am satisfied that MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) took a calibrated and tiered approach, with stricter measures for higher-risk areas such as Little India and ring-fencing (of) residential common areas such as void decks and corridors.

"The majority of my residents in Little India will be pleased. They had given feedback on their satisfaction with the existing temporary liquor restrictions implemented over the (past) year there. The provisions have substantially improved their living environment and sense of security."

In the wake of the Little India riot on Dec 8, 2013, temporary measures were put in place in the area to clamp down on public drinking and alcohol sales over weekends and public holidays.

Ms Tin Pei Ling (Marine Parade GRC), who sits on the Government Parliamentary Committee for Home Affairs and Law, said that simply designating certain areas for alcohol curbs would not work.

"An islandwide ban may be somewhat blunt, but I think it is necessary. This is because if the measures apply only to certain areas, drinkers will simply be displaced to other areas," she told The Straits Times.

Mr Hri Kumar Nair (Bishan- Toa Payoh GRC), who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Home Affairs and Law, said: "For residents, one of their main complaints is the noise created by people who drink late at the void decks, and there is currently no effective way to deal with that issue. We are dealing with people's welfare here."

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