20 December 2013

Riot Aftermath — Little India Recalibrated And Migrant Drinkers' Coming Quandary

When Minister for Transport Lui Tuck Yew wrote:

"[I]t was clear how much quieter the place had become [one evening on the weekend following the 8 December riot].

The measures that MHA [Ministry of Home Affairs] imposed on a temporary basis have helped to restore a sense of calm and order to the place. Going forward, we will have to tweak these measures so that, for everyone involved, Little India does become a better PLACE (Police presence enhanced, Less Alcohol and Congestion, Enforcement tightened)."

I suspected that weekends in Little India would not be allowed to be the same again.

Mr Lui, who is also a Member of Parliament for Moulmein-Kallang GRC of which Little India is a part, foresees that the recommendations of the Committee of Inquiry will help the Government reach "a more appropriate, steady state" in Little India, and possibly in other areas where foreign workers congregate in large numbers.

Recalibrated Measures
The police announced that for the next six months:
The ban on alcohol consumption in public in Little India will continue. It will be in force from 6 am on Saturdays to 6 am on Mondays, and from 6 am on the eve of a public holiday to 6 am on the day after the public holiday.
The ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol within the premises of the 240 public- and beer-house licences will be lifted.
▪ The 134 shops holding retail and wholesale licences will be allowed to sell alcohol from 6 am until 8 pm on weekends, eve of public holidays, and on public holidays.
The private bus operators will resume operation, but with only half the number of scheduled buses and from 2 pm to 9 pm, instead of 2 pm to 11 pm previously.

These "recalibrated" measures will be in place for up to six months until the Committee of Inquiry has completed its work and made its recommendations. New laws and regulations may be enacted.

The ban on public consumption of alcohol will continue because the police say they have good reason to believe that alcohol consumption and intoxication in public areas had contributed to the behaviour of the mob and aggravated the situation. They say that curbing public drunkenness is an important component of measures aimed at restoring calm and security in the Little India vicinity.
The stakeholders that the police consulted had expressed support for the continued ban against public consumption of alcohol. (From a strictly grammatical perspective, there is a difference between saying "The stakeholders that the police consulted had expressed support..." and "The stakeholders, which the police consulted, had expressed support...". In the former, only those stakeholders that the police consulted expressed support. In the latter, all the stakeholders expressed support. It is not clear, however, whether the police intended to make this distinction.)
Six Months Are An Eternity
Little India will be a different place in six months' time.
The "recalibrated" measures will result in:
▪ Significantly fewer foreign workers going there.

▪ The eventual closure of many of the 134 retail and wholesale licensees.

The foreign workers who used to frequent Little India on weekends will look for other places where the "recalibrated" measures do not apply. They are unlikely to go to Little India again, even after six months, at least not in the former numbers.
Alcohol Consumption Restrictions
In any event, it is unlikely that the restrictions on alcohol consumption in public will be lifted entirely, if at all, in the light of MHA's on-going review of the measures on the sale of alcohol and consumption of alcohol in public places.
MHA's stated impetus for the review, the public consultation of which started just days before the 8 December riot, is:

▪ Excessive liquor consumption is often associated with aggression and violent behaviour. Alcohol intoxication also may cause individuals to have less control of their behaviour and act with less consideration for others. This gives rise to law and order problems such as disorderly behaviour and fights, as well as public nuisance such as noise pollution and littering.

▪ Some MPs and residents living near congregation hot spots have raised concerns that these drinking problems, exacerbated by the availability of cheap liquor from retail stores in the vicinity, are posing safety issues and dis-amenities to the community as drinkers become intoxicated in the night.

Accordingly, MHA is considering the following proposed measures:

▪ Designating no-alcohol zones at some public places.

▪ Shortening the sale hours of alcohol at retail outlets.

These measures aim to reduce the availability of cheap liquor (MHA refers to "cheap liquor" whilst the police refer to "alcohol" in Little India; it is not clear whether any distinction was intended) at congregation hot spots to curb alcohol intoxication, as well as to protect the general public, particularly residents, from safety threat and dis-amenities caused by drinkers congregating at public places.

Other Places
If the police believe that alcohol consumption and intoxication in public areas had contributed to the behaviour of the mob and aggravated the situation in Little India, why isn't the ban on public consumption of alcohol was not applied to other places where many people congregate?
Presumably, they cannot do it without justification. Not yet, anyway.
Where To Consume Liquor?
For the next six months, no one is allowed to consume alcohol in a public place in Little India.

This is not a problem for anyone other than the 134 shops holding retail and wholesale licences in Little India and, to a lesser extent, the 240 entities holding public- or beer-house licences, some of which operate in Tekka Market and do not have premises of their own within which their customers have to confine their drinking (or perhaps they are mistaken and Tekka Market is a public place).

The foreign workers who used to consume alcohol in Little India will henceforth consume their alcohol elsewhere until MHA comes out with regulations which will likely regulate their consumption of alcohol in public places.

The foreign workers are not like the rest of us.

We have homes in which we can drink in private or in the company of our friends.

We can afford to pay more to drink in coffee shops or restaurants.

But most of the foreign workers who live in dormitories cannot.

Hopefully, someone has a workable solution. It's our problem, not theirs.


  1. If there was an active volcanoe, and it exploded, what would the S'pore G do? They will most likely remove the volcanoe if possible. If not possible, they will build a super solid concrete cover over it. That is exactly the "procedure" which they know. Cover up. Cover up. If it explodes once more (maybe even harder), they build another harder cover over it. They cannot think out of the box. Too busy making the GDP high.

  2. A real long term solution: Build a sports-league for the Indian Workers. Cricket? Football? And sponsor them in an active and lively hobby. Can also integrate with Local people to build relations. I don't need a million dollar salary to think of this one.

    1. Stop treating them like idiots. Why don't we "class room" you and your children?

      If they are fellow thinking humans, they are free to roam and be responsible for their actions. If they are stupid people, then don't bring them in

  3. The idiotic move only treat these foreign workers like stupid working animals(can't think and no voice. easily manipulated and bullied. only good for mindless laborious work) more.

    The system breeds animals. Can you blame them if they behave like one?

  4. Now why don't they ban brothels? To many civil servants and rich businessmen enjoying their services?

  5. Insult the Chinese ...insult the Indians with your laws and policies....I wonder whether these people have any pride at all

    No wonder the pressure cooker burst!

  6. Take a look at all neighbourhood shopping malls. Instead of them going to their enclaves, now they will be all over the heartlands.

    Smart move indeed.