Goverment seeks views on restricting public consumption and sale of alcohol

Goverment seeks views on restricting public consumption and sale of alcohol
Staff Sergeant Corporal Tamilarasu (left) explaining to Mr Tillaichidambaram and Mr Raja Gopal, the notice stating the new regulations regarding alcohol sales in Little India at the grocery shop, Home of Spices on 19 December 2013

SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and REACH will be launching Phase II of the public consultation to seek further public feedback on measures to control liquor sale and consumption at public places. Phase II of the consultation will start today and end on Jul 31, 2014.

Phase I: Public feedback and support for measures

Between Oct 29 and Dec 31 last year, MHA and REACH consulted stakeholders and the general public on the proposals to designate no-alcohol zones at some public places and shorten the sale hours of liquor at retail outlets. The proposed measures seek to address concerns of safety and disamenities that could potentially arise from people congregating and drinking in public places

The majority of the respondents supported the two proposed measures. 83 per cent of the respondents who commented on the proposal to designate no-alcohol zones in public places, and 76 per cent of those who commented on the proposal to shorten retail sale hours of alcohol for off-premise consumption, expressed support for the respective measures.

On designating no-alcohol zones at some public places, respondents suggested congregation hotspots, and common areas within the neighbourhood such as playgrounds, void decks, and the areas around MRT stations, as possible areas that could be designated as no-alcohol zones. On the proposal to shorten the sale hours of alcohol at retail outlets, respondents in general preferred the sale of alcohol at retail outlets to end by 12am in residential areas, and by 2am in entertainment districts.

Phase II: Seeking views on ways to implement the measures

Following Phase I of the public consultation, MHA is now seeking the public's views on the different models to restrict public consumption and sale of alcohol. There are various models adopted overseas, and MHA would like to seek the public's view to derive at a model which best suits Singapore's needs. This will help to ensure that the measures implemented will be effective and sustainable in the long-run.

Measure 1: Restriction on public consumption of alcohol

These models are:

- Partial Restriction with Selective Enforcement - This allows targeted restriction with selective enforcement against people who create a nuisance when consuming alcohol.

- Partial Restriction by Place - This allows targeted restriction to be imposed at problematic hotspots where large groups of people often congregate and drink alcohol.

- Partial Restriction by Time - This allows targeted restriction by prohibiting public consumption of alcohol late at night.

- Wider Restriction - This model effectively reduces public consumption of alcohol, as the restriction is applied in all places and at all times

Measure 2: Shortening the sale hours of alcohol at retail outlets

Even with the restriction on public consumption, there may still be some who do not abide by the rules and continue to create nuisance. To better control the situation, the supply of alcohol can be restricted by ending its retail sale for off-premise consumption at an earlier time. This is practised in other jurisdictions, such as New South Wales.

The various options are:

- End retail sale of alcohol by 2am in entertainment districts;

- End retail sale of alcohol by 12am in residential areas;

- End retail sale of alcohol earlier (e.g. 9pm) in areas where people tend to congregate and consume alcohol in public places.

Public consultation

The public can access the public consultation on the REACH website. Feedback can also be submitted to reach@reach.gov.sg. This exercise will start on Jun 16, 2014 and end on Jul 31, 2014.

MHA will take into account the views obtained from this public consultation, as well as any findings and recommendations from the Committee of Inquiry looking into the Little India riot, in our review of the longer term measures for Singapore. The full set of liquor control measures will be announced when they are ready.

spanaech@sph.com.sg

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