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Most back proposals for alcohol restrictions

8 in 10 want ban on public drinking and restricted hours for alcohol sales
The Straits Times - June 17, 2014
By: Feng Zengkun
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Most back proposals for alcohol restrictions Migrant workers at Tekka Centre drinking. The sale and consumption of alcohol in Little India has been restricted since a riot there last December damaged 23 emergency vehicles and injured 54 responding officers. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

EIGHT in 10 people support a proposed ban on the drinking of alcohol in some public places, especially near MRT stations and at playgrounds and void decks.

About the same proportion also want the selling of alcohol in shops to be stopped after a certain time, with more restricted hours in residential areas.

These were the findings of a survey done by government feedback portal Reach and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in the wake of concerns over the public consumption of alcohol.

MHA did not provide absolute figures for the responses to the survey, which was conducted between Oct 29 and Dec 31 last year.

But it said yesterday that respondents generally preferred retail shops to stop selling take- away alcohol by midnight in residential areas, and by 2am in entertainment districts.

The agencies had asked people to comment on proposals to limit alcohol drinking in public and alcohol sales, as part of a review to improve public safety and reduce the nuisance of people gathering and drinking alcohol in public places.

MPs and residents had raised concerns about the problems posed by public drinking in recent years, said MHA last year.

The sale and consumption of alcohol in Little India, for example, has been restricted since a riot there last December damaged 23 emergency vehicles and injured 54 responding officers.

MHA is now seeking people's views on methods used in some other countries to limit the public drinking of alcohol.

These have been compiled at www.reach.gov.sg under the public consultations section, and the deadline for feedback is July 31.

The views - and the findings and recommendations of the Committee of Inquiry looking into the riot, to be submitted this month - will be used to craft longer-term measures for Singapore.

In Britain, police can require people to give up open containers of alcohol in some areas, though people are generally allowed to drink from them, said MHA.

"However, this is a more reactive approach and the nuisance would have been caused before intervention takes place," it said.

Other places like New South Wales in Australia have alcohol- free zones, while in the United States, public drinking is almost universally banned.

Ms Anisah Mohamed, 35, an assistant administrative manager, suggested a ban on public alcohol drinking in residential neighbourhoods after 10pm.

"It would be like the noise pollution laws that prevent construction works from disturbing people after a certain time," she said.

But a worker at a Serangoon 7-11 convenience store said a blanket ban on public alcohol drinking, such as at all void decks, may be too drastic. "Sometimes on the weekends, we have friends who buy alcohol and gather at the nearby void deck to chat," said the employee who declined to be named.

"They could go to a hawker centre instead, but they usually don't disturb anybody, so I don't see what's the harm."

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