Business down after liquor licence suspended

The operator of Kodai Canteen, an eatery near the scene of the riot, also took the stand in on Tuesday's hearing.

Mr Ramakrishnan Ponnaiah, 45, who manages three other shops in Little India, hid in his office beside the canteen for two hours after ordering his workers to lock themselves in his shops until it was safe.

Kodai Canteen previously sold alcohol in the area, but its licence has been suspended indefinitely after the riot. Mr Ponnaiah claimed to have suffered around 80 per cent losses in terms of monthly turnover since the riot.

Committee chairman G. Pannir Selvam: Why did (the police) suspend your licence?

Mr Ponnaiah: Because they said the alcohol should be consumed in my place only, but one or two people put the can in their bag and took it into the MRT station. I think the police caught them in the MRT station.

They kept the alcohol inside the bag and left. You cannot control them. But still they say the inquiry is pending and I have to stop selling alcohol, so we stopped selling.

Committee member Andrew Chua: Mr Ponnaiah, there have been reports that on the night of the incident, there were foreign workers who were eating and drinking in your store. Then this group of foreign workers rushed to the area where the bus is and could possibly be the people who caused the riot. Have you heard of this?

Mr Ponnaiah: I have not heard about this, but it is not possible because the riot is far away from my canteen, around 300m to 400m from my place. When I went there to see at around 9.30pm, already people are there, but not from my shop, it is not possible.

Mr Selvam: Why can't they just leave when they see the crowd and just go there? Why is it impossible? I mean, if there's a crowd down there, they see another crowd, they can easily go there.

Mr Ponnaiah: Maybe, I'm not sure about that one, because it's far away, that's what I can say.

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