'Onus on individuals' to drink responsibly

'Onus on individuals' to drink responsibly

SINGAPORE - There is "only so much" that the authorities can do to curb the problem of nuisance drinkers, so individuals should take it upon themselves to drink responsibly, said Law Minister K. Shanmugam yesterday.

Speaking on the sidelines of a community event, he said that the Liquor Control Bill was passed in response to public feedback, after a survey by government feedback unit Reach found that an "overwhelming majority" of Singaporeans supported curbs on public drinking.

Said Mr Shanmugam, who is also the Foreign Minister and an MP for Nee Soon GRC: "When people come home late, they don't want to see others sitting around and drinking in the void deck. This sort of public drinking is what's being prohibited."

The law, which is expected to take effect on April 1, makes it illegal to drink in public places from 10.30pm to 7am. The takeaway sale of alcohol from 10.30pm will also be banned.

It is too early to tell whether the law will result in more people drinking at home and causing a disturbance to their neighbours, but a new Bill on community mediation may tackle that problem, he added.

The Community Dispute Resolution Bill, which sets out penalties for those who cause unreasonable disturbance to their neighbours, was introduced in Parliament two weeks ago.

"In the end, there has got to be individual responsibility. There's only so much the Government can do," he said. "I think there can be a more responsible drinking culture that Singaporeans can have."The law, which is expected to take effect on April 1, makes it illegal to drink in public places from 10.30pm to 7am. The takeaway sale of alcohol from 10.30pm will also be banned.

Dr William Wan, general secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement and a trained lawyer, said that ultimately, it is up to individuals to think about others.

"The law is not able to make people do the right thing. It can only prevent people from doing the wrong thing," he said. "Other- centredness is still the key - it's not just about yourself."

During yesterday's community event, 540 volunteers fanned out across three divisions in Nee Soon GRC - Chong Pang, Sembawang and Marsiling - to give out goodie bags.

About 1,900 needy households in rental blocks received the bags, which contained $50 worth of items such as biscuits and nuts.

This was part of a three-week initiative by the North West Community Development Council to promote a culture of giving back to the community.


This article was first published on January 1, 2015.
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