Will the face of Little India change?

Will the face of Little India change?

Mr S. Gokulabalan, vice-president of the Little India Shopkeepers and Heritage Association, tells Rennie Whang (wrennie@sph.com.sg) how last week's riot and the subsequent alcohol ban might change the face of Little India.

HOW MUCH COULD LITTLE INDIA LOSE FROM THE ALCOHOL BAN?

Most workers come here for their weekly groceries. They also dine at restaurants on Saturdays and Sundays. I think these two groups of businesses can expect at least 40 to 50 per cent fewer customers.

IS THE BAN NECESSARY?

We don't support it as it's to the detriment of our stakeholders. But the ban is necessary because something went wrong.

The police have been consulting us the past few days and now, we still have another week to talk about the matter. The main cause is not alcohol alone, though it might have contributed in some way.

WHAT DO YOU THINK SHOULD HAPPEN WITH LITTLE INDIA IN THE LONG TERM?

We now have the problem of too many shops selling alcohol, making it too readily available. Maybe we should go back to the old laws and have stricter licensing.

The licensing department can consider reducing the number of licences it grants or not renew some licences.

It won't be long before the regulations will come up, which will be to the benefit of everybody.

While areas like Orchard Road have a lot of pubs, they don't seem to have this kind of problems (of foreign workers loitering and other families staying away).

We have to accommodate the foreign workers.


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