Alcohol ban eased in Singapore’s Little India

Singapore, Dec 19: Singapore Wednesday loosened alcohol ban imposed after the Dec 8 riot in Little India, but the ban will remain for six months until the committee of inquiry makes its recommendations, police said.

The alcohol ban will be in force every weekend, public holiday and eve of public holiday within the proclaimed area in Little India, Xinhua quoted police as saying in a statement.

However shops holding retail and wholesale licences will be able to sell alcohol, but for shorter hours, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends, eve of public holidays, and on public holidays. The measures will affect 134 stakeholders such as liquor shops and convenience stores.

Meanwhile, for stakeholders like restaurants, hotels, pubs, and coffee shops, the ban on sale and consumption of alcohol will be lifted. But consumption must be within their premises. This will affect about 240 outlets.

“Police will also continue to maintain a strong presence in Little India,” it added.

The city state has charged 28 Indian nationals over riot Tuesday, leaving 53 to be repatriated, 200 to be issued police advisory and allowed to remain and work in Singapore.

The authorities had described the riot as a “spontaneous” and “one-off” incident, adding that alcohol was a factor.

Police also said the ferry service between transient workers’ remote dormitory and Little India will resume operation from Sunday, Dec 22, but at half the number of scheduled buses for a start.

The buses will operate from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m., instead of 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. previously, it added.

Meanwhile, at the court, two alleged rioters Wednesday afternoon were ordered to be remanded for an additional week to assist in ongoing investigations.

The Law Society of Singapore said it will assign pro bono defence counsel to 26 of the 28 workers charged in relation to the Little India riot, while the rest two have engaged their own lawyers.

The riot involving some 400 South Asian workers broke out Dec 8 evening after a fatal traffic accident in which a worker from India was knocked down by a private bus in Little India, a district known for its distinctively Indian culture.

It was the biggest riot in Singapore in some 40 years, as the city state has been known as one of the safest cities. A total of 22 police officers, 12 Singapore Civil Defence Force officers and five auxiliary police officers were injured in the incident.

IANS