Late-night can of stout lands shop in trouble

Late-night can of stout lands shop in trouble
Yeo Buan Heng Liquor Shop along 27 Chandar Road in Little India, a shop establishment in breach of alcohol ban.

SINGAPORE - It was after midnight on Sunday and the shutters to a 50-year-old family business were drawn.

Madam Irene Yeo, 58, of Yeo Buan Heng Liquor Shop in Chander Road was inside, packing boxes and doing her accounts.

Then came a knock on her door. A man pleaded for a tipple. She relented, in what she repeatedly told The Straits Times on Tuesday was a "careless" and "very stupid" mistake.

Speaking in a mix of English and Mandarin, she said: "He begged me for just one can of ABC stout. I was very careless. I didn't see any police cars outside and I thought I wouldn't get into trouble."

She did get into trouble. Her business was allowed to sell alcohol on a takeaway basis only between 6am and 8pm on weekends, public holidays and eves of public holidays - restrictions imposed after the Little India riot.

The buyer would eventually finger the shop when he was confronted by the police at 12.46am for "carrying a can of unopened beer along Chander Road", police said in a statement on Monday.

Police are intending to charge Yeo Buan Heng under Section 71(1) of the Customs Act. Its liquor licence will be suspended until the case is over.

A yet-to-be-identified Jalan Besar eatery was also caught selling liquor without a valid licence.

Madam Yeo said she is "worried sick and cannot sleep" over separate accusations that she also violated an alcohol ban imposed on Dec 14 and Dec 15.

She said that police investigations have yielded "one bill printed 14th when it should be 13th instead". She had told them it was a "machine fault".

The police said "it is inappropriate to comment as investigations are ongoing".

All Madam Yeo hopes is for the episode to blow over soon. "I made a mistake and I'm prepared to pay the fines. I hope I can resume normal business soon, and that the licence will not be permanently revoked," she said.

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