2-day ban on alcohol sale in Little India

SINGAPORE - There will be no sale of alcohol in Little India this Saturday and Sunday, the authorities confirmed on Wednesday, as three more men were charged over Sunday night's riot there.

The blanket ban will apply not only to liquor stores but all establishments, from upscale restaurants and bars to more humble convenience stores and hostels.

Any business that flouts the order risks having its licence revoked, said the Liquors Licensing Board.

The announcement comes as the police move to beef up security in the area ahead of the weekend by installing more closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras.

Employers have also started warning their workers to stay away from the area temporarily.

The alcohol ban extends from 6am on Saturday to 5.59am on Monday - a change from an earlier circular sent out that said the ban would be effective for three days, starting tomorrow.

While jittery Little India residents voiced support for the alcohol ban, businesses were quick to express unhappiness.

"A blanket ban is ridiculous. The authorities should consider what kind of business we are and the customers we attract," said Ms Petrina Loh, chef-owner of Morsels, a restaurant in Mayo Street with a mainly expatriate and local clientele.

The action comes in the wake of Sunday's riot that saw police cars overturned and set ablaze by a mob of 400 angered by a traffic accident, which left a 33-year- old Indian national dead.

On Wednesday, three more men were charged with rioting, with more details emerging about their involvement on Sunday.

Rajendran Ranjan, 22, Moorthy Kabildev, 24, and Sathiyamoorthy Sivaraman, 26, were alleged to have used a metal drain cover, a dustbin and a wooden stick, among other things, to smash the windscreen and window of the private bus that had run over the man who died.

This brings the total number charged to 27 Indian nationals. Eight others were arrested but released after police established that they were not involved. One man has been released on bail.

Meanwhile, employers began advising workers to avoid trouble this weekend by returning to dormitories earlier or giving Little India a miss altogether.

Many workers told The Straits Times they planned to avoid the place at least for the time being.

Police had said on Tuesday that investigations into the riot were ongoing, with some 3,700 foreign workers interviewed at more than 10 dormitories across the island.

Of these, at least 176 have had their statements taken at the Criminal Investigation Department.

Since Tuesday, police have also started installing 26 more CCTV cameras in the vicinity of Race Course Road and Buffalo Road.

Law Minister K. Shanmugam told about 40 Indian national workers at a dialogue yesterday night that the incident has affected Singapore deeply.

But he assured them that foreign workers who abide by Singapore's laws have no reason to be worried about their jobs, and that Singapore remains steadfast in its commitment to treating them well.


Additional reporting by Yeo Sam Jo, Kash Cheong and Amelia Tan

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