Singapore was facing looming concerns over teenagers buying booze and loitering in public areas, drinking and being a nuisance after being drunk. But this was not the main reason for why Singapore started banning sales of alcohol after 10.30 pm. Ironically, it started because of a riot that broke out in Little India on 8th December 2013 – 44 years after the major communal riots in 1969.
The riot was sparked by a fatal accident when an Indian foreign worker, Sakthivel Kumarvelu, was run over by a private bus and was instantly killed. It angered the crowd (mostly foreign workers) which gathered more than 300 of them. Though the police, ambulance, and Singapore Civil Defence Force arrived at the scene, they are being attacked by the mob, damaging 23 emergency vehicles, of which 5 were torched. There were also 8 civilians that were injured in the riot as well.
The government immediately mitigated the issues by setting up a Committee of Inquiry (COI) which Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called upon to examine the testimonies of more than 300 witnesses.
In order to minimise public disorder, a banned was imposed on the consumption and sales of alcohol in public places.
- The alcohol ban in Singapore started on 1st April 2015
- Drinking alcohol is banned in all public places from 10.30 pm to 7 am
It was no question that drinking in public is definitely not flouting the law unless you are being a nuisance to the public which enforcers will come into the picture. However, it paints a different picture in Singapore.
A new law has passed on 1st April 2015 under the Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) Act which drinking alcohol is banned in all public places from 10.30 pm to 7 am. Retail shops are also not allowed to sell takeaway alcohol from 10.30 pm to 7 am as well.
Geylang and Little India are designated as “Liquor Control Zones”
Little India as it is called, is a concentrated area at Serangoon Road which provides Indian locals and foreign workers a place to hang out during their off day. Most of the foreign workers would run errands, buying food or daily necessities here, especially at the 24-hour Mustafa Shopping Centre, which is famous for cheap products.
They would also buy some booze and sit around the open grass patch in the area with their friends and drink their fill.
Things took a change after the riot in December 2013. The government puts an immediate ban on Little India after the riot, with alcohol not allowed during these hours:
- Starting from 6 am on Saturdays till Monday
- Starting from 6 am on the eve of public holidays till the day after public holidays
Geylang is famous for two activities in Singapore – It is the only red-light district in entire Singapore where prostitution thrives together with sleazy pubs and nightclubs. On the other hand, it is also a heaven for food lovers as coffee shops and restaurants lined the streets that provide a great variety of local and alternative cuisine.
With the presence of these two businesses, alcohol is inevitable, but that also spells trouble when the drunk creates problems on the streets.
On 1st April 2015, the Parliament passed a revised law, zoning Geylang and Little India as Liquor Control Zones, which both areas are flooded with foreign workers during the weekend.
The law banned these two places from public drinking from 7 am on Saturday to 7 am on Monday every week. It also applies from 7 pm on the eve of a public holiday to 7 am on the day after a public holiday.
Shops in Geylang and Little India are prohibited from selling takeaway alcohol from 7 pm on weekends, the eve of public holidays, and public holidays.
What is the penalty for flouting the ban?
A shop selling alcohol after the permitted hours could be fined up to S$10,000
Not A joke with The New Law
Although the government implemented the new laws, some are still not able to get used to it. Mr. Tan Gak Hin was drinking beer with his friends in public was fined a maximum of S$1,000 after he pleaded guilty to a charge of consuming liquor in a public place during prohibited hours (between 10.30 pm and 7 pm). See: Man fined S$1,000 for consuming alcohol in public after 10,30pm.