Dismay for young clubbers, relief for residents

Dismay for young clubbers, relief for residents
Young people drinking in Clarke Quay last Friday night. Many of them had bought alcohol from retail shops such as convenience stores.

SINGAPORE - The plan to ban drinking in public places from 10.30pm to 7am is proving unpopular with young clubbers, but has been welcomed by residents living near entertainment districts.

The late-night gatherings around Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay have caused many living there to complain about the noise and littering that takes place on weekends and every Wednesday, which is earmarked "Ladies Night" by many clubs.

When The Straits Times visited these areas last Friday night, as many as 500 people - mostly young adults in their early 20s - were drinking in public after buying alcohol from retail shops such as a nearby 7-Eleven store.

In the vicinity of nightclub Zouk, groups sat on the floor drinking. On Read Bridge, a popular gathering place in Clarke Quay, young people lined the sides, many with drinks in hand.

They said they preferred to get a buzz first from cheaper alcohol bought from convenience stores, before heading to clubs where drinks are more expensive.

Even after midnight, there were long queues for drinks at such stores, which currently stop selling alcohol only between 3am and 6am.

The Bill introduced yesterday will not allow retail shops to sell alcohol after 10.30pm.

Student Desiree Chen, 21, said: "I can understand the rationale behind this, but perhaps the ban on public drinking in entertainment places like Clarke Quay can be pushed to a later time. Maybe the ban should be kept to just residential zones."

Another student, 19-year-old Khoo Wei Hao, said: "There shouldn't be a ban here (in Clarke Quay) as it is an entertainment spot. It will be less 'happening'... a lot of people wouldn't want to go there any more."

But Singapore Nightlife Business Association president Dennis Foo said the proposed new regulations are a long time coming.

"It's about time we became a really safe place," he said. "Retailers are selling their alcohol at a fraction of our bar price. Many purchase cheap alcohol from convenience stores, get themselves drunk in places like Read Bridge, and enter the bars and clubs and make a nuisance and get into fights.

"We get the brunt of this and it's really unfair."

Residents also believe the proposed rules will help clean up the area. One 42-year-old who resides at Watermark at Robertson Quay condominium and wanted to be known only as Mr Tan, said: "There are broken glasses and a lot of littering on Wednesdays and weekends. The restrictions will help address these problems."

Mr Rahul Kalia, a 39-year-old businessman who lives at Tribeca by the Waterfront condominium in Kim Seng Road, said: "I've never felt unsafe, but you can see littering and there can be a bit of noise. It is a good proactive measure to prevent anything worse from happening."

This article was first published on January 20, 2015.
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