Careful consideration needed for alcohol ban

Little India Riot

SINGAPORE - It is unprecedented that a part of Singapore is being declared a no-alcohol zone ("2-day ban on alcohol sale in Little India"; yesterday).

While this may be a stopgap measure, it can be a permanent feature as long as South Asian foreigners congregate there every weekend. But where else can we expect them to go if not Little India?

Banning alcohol is not a long-term solution because it hurts the many food and beverage businesses - shops, cafes and restaurants owned by Singaporeans - in the area. It just gives another reason for people not to come to the area to wine and dine.

Little India does not belong to foreign workers. It is a tourist attraction and a major part of the Indian culture in Singapore, where Deepavali is celebrated every year.

If we designate the area as though it were filled with only mob trouble and drunken violence, Little India will soon be relegated to a footnote in Singapore's history.

Will this ban provoke more discord between Indian foreign workers and others? Will there be a call to ban alcohol in Beach Road or Geylang if there is crowd violence in these areas in future?

We should think calmly before we make any final judgment on this matter. The last thing we want is to create more discord as a result of our decision to ban alcohol in any part of Singapore.

Douglas Chua

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