ON THE AGENDA
The Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) Bill was passed yesterday after a spirited three-hour debate in Parliament.
Almost all of the 17 members who spoke supported the Bill, which restricts drinking in public places and the sale of alcohol between certain hours.
Figures on crimes linked to drinking
Statistics were requested and released in Parliament about the link between drinking and crime.
Last year, alcohol consumption fuelled 47 cases of rioting and 115 cases of serious hurt, including stabbing and the use of dangerous weapons.
About 20 per cent of serious incidents were also liquor-related, and nine in 10 of the incidents happened after 10.30pm.
A toast and many suggestions
While members of the House mostly supported the law, they also made many suggestions on how it can be improved.
Nominated MP Thomas Chua suggested introducing a demerit point system for retailers, so that they get their licences revoked only after breaching a certain threshold, while Ms Foo Mee Har (West Coast GRC) wanted certain areas to be designated "cool spots", where people can gather to drink beyond 10.30pm.
WP calls for greater flexibility
WORKERS' Party (WP) MPs supported the Bill, but sought greater flexibility.
They asked for the sale of alcohol to be allowed beyond 10.30pm, and for regulations to be relaxed at places away from residential areas, like East Coast Park.
Lone voice saying 'nay' to the Bill
Non-constituency MP Lina Chiam was the only person who objected to the Bill, saying it "did not entirely reflect the views of the people of Singapore". She asked for the Bill to be put before a select committee for further scrutiny.
Striking a balance amid diverse views
Second Minister for Home Affairs S. Iswaran said the Bill was about minimising disamenities and threats to public order, but being balanced in doing so.
"In terms of our approach, we have endeavoured to be balanced, trying to reconcile quite diverse views and interests, in order to achieve a pathway forward where we can all commit to and achieve some level of unanimity and take steps according to that," he said.
Members of Parliament expressed concern about whether it would be easy to apply for a consumption permit that would allow drinking at an event held in a public place - for example, a barbecue at the beach. They said it would be best if people could apply for it online, making it less tedious.
People can drink in dorms, hawker centres
The taps would not be turned off at 10.30pm in migrant workers' dormitories and hawker centres, with the passing of the law.
Workers can still drink in their private quarters and cafeterias, subject to the rules of the dorms, and hawker stalls with liquor licences can sell alcohol until the time specified in the licence.
This article was first published on January 31, 2015.
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