Two men fined for flouting alcohol rules in Little India

SINGAPORE - A liquor shop owner in Little India who was punished for selling alcohol despite a ban said he feared a beating if he did not give in to a drunk customer.

Yeo Eng Hock, 59, was one of two men fined $4,000 on Wednesday for selling alcohol illegally in the aftermath of the Dec 8 riot in Serangoon. The unrest involving about 400 Indian and Bangladeshi workers led to weekend curbs on the sale of alcohol in the area.

Yeo, who owns Yeo Buan Heng Liquor Shop in Chander Road, pleaded guilty to selling a can of stout to a customer at around 1am on Dec 22, even though alcohol sales were banned from 8pm to 6am. But in mitigation, Yeo said he went through with the the sale only because he was afraid the man, who seemed to be drunk and had kicked the door of his shop, would hurt him otherwise.

"In a moment of carelessness, I forgot about the regulations imposed by the authorities and sold the can of stout," he said in Mandarin.

Yeo also asked when the suspension on his liquor licence would be lifted but the judge said that he should inquire with the Liquor Licensing Board.

The other case involved 44-year-old Tan Suan Lee, the proprietor of Prata City. Despite his having no licence to peddle liquor, a police check found him selling beer in his Jalan Besar restaurant at 12.50am on Dec 22.

Tan, who like Yeo faced a maximum $5,000 fine, begged for a lenient sentence after pleading guilty. But Deputy Public Prosecutor Lin Yinbing asked for a penalty higher than the typical $1,000 fine for past cases.

She said Tan had been serving alcohol without a licence since opening the restaurant more than a year ago. "He had also continued selling beer during a time when public consumption of alcohol was restricted...and had undermined the Government's efforts to restore safety and security in Little India after the riot."

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