Residents happy, but not some businesses

Residents happy, but not some businesses

SINGAPORE - Little India residents have welcomed the continuing ban on public drinking on weekends, while restaurants and coffee shops are looking forward to the resumption of alcohol sales as long as it is consumed on their premises.

But owners of provision stores and alcohol shops were left disappointed by the latest measures announced by the police on Wednesday. They said business will continue to suffer as their clientele consists mainly of foreign workers who buy and drink on the spot.

In a relaxation of the absolute ban on alcohol sales imposed last weekend after the Dec 8 riot, convenience and liquor shops in Little India will be allowed to sell alcohol between 6am and 8pm on weekends, when foreign workers normally have their days off.

"But if workers are not allowed to drink here, why would they buy?" said shop assistant Balan Kabilan of Moonshine Enterprise at Chander Road, referring to the ban on public drinking.

"Workers only start coming in after 8pm, so those who want to buy also cannot buy."

Mr S Gohulabalan, vice-chairman of the Little India Shopkeepers and Heritage Association, said it was "possible some shops won't recover from the ban because they are totally dependent on the sale of alcohol".

Provision shops which also rely on foreign workers for sales said the measures will continue to affect their business negatively.

"You tell foreign workers they still can't drink on the streets - of course they will be scared off," said Sri Sai Mooka Minimart owner Ramesh Kumar. "The only time Singaporeans come in bulk to my shop are during Deepavali and New Year. What am I going to do for the other 363 days?"

Still, the ban on the consumption of alcohol in public areas over a 1.1 sq km area in Little India was given the thumbs up by residents such as businessman Mohamed Neyas, 34, who lives at Rowell Road.

"Last weekend was amazing," he said. "If workers want to buy alcohol and drink somewhere else, or buy vegetables, that is fine. But if they make a scene, the drinking affects us residents."

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