What Do You Know About The Drinking Laws In Singapore?

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  • The alcohol ban in Singapore started on 1st April 2015
  • Drinking of alcohol is banned in all public places from 10.30pm to 7am

It was no questions that drinking in the public is definitely not flouting the law, unless you are being a nuisance to the public which enforcers will come into pictures. 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 10.30pm to 7am. Retail shops are also not allowed to sell takeaway alcohol from 10.30pm to 7am as well.

What is the reason behind the ban ?

Although there are already looming concerns over teenagers buying booze and seating in public areas, drinking and chatting away, there wasn’t a strict enforcement until the riot that broke out in Little India on 8th December 201344 years after the major communal riots in 1969.

The riot was sparked by a fatal accident when a 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, Singapore Civil Defence Force have arrived at scene, they are being attacked by the mob, damaging 23 emergency vehicles, which 5 were torched. There was also 8 civilians that were injured in the riot as well.

The government took action immediately to mitigate the issues by setting up a Committee of Inquiry (COI) which Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called upon to examined the testimonies of more than 300 witness.

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In order to minimise public disorder, a banned was being imposed on the consumption and sales of alcohol in public places.

Geylang and Little India 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 are 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 at Little India after the riot, with alcohol not allowed during these hours:

  • Starting from 6am on Saturdays till Monday
  • Starting from 6am on eve of public holidays till day after public holidays

Geylang is the famous for two activities in Singapore – It is the only red light district in the entire Singapore which prostitution thrives together with sleazy pubs and nightclubs. On the other hand, it is also a heaven for food lovers as coffeeshops and restaurants lined along the streets that provides a great varieties 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.

In 1st April 2015, the Parliament has passed a revised law, zoning Geylang and Little India as Liquor Control Zones, which both areas are flooded with foreign workers during the weekend.

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The law banned these two places from public drinking from 7am on Saturday to 7am on Monday every week. It also applies from 7pm of the eve of a public holiday to 7am of the day after public holiday.

Shops in Geylang and Little India are also prohibited to sell takeaway alcohol from 7pm on weekends, eve of public holidays, and public holidays.

What are 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

tan gak hin alcohol
Mr. Tan Gak Hin – “Winner” of the 1st offender under the new law

Although the government implemented the new laws, but some are still not able to get used to it. Mr. Tan Gak Hin was drinking beer with his friends in the 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 10.30pm and 7pm). See: Man fined S$1,000 for consuming alcohol in public after 10,30pm.

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