Saturday, 7 February 2015

No more alcoholic picnics after 10:30pm in Singapore

Soon, you won't be able to drink just anywhere in Singapore

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) today proposed laws in Parliament that will prohibit the consumption of liquor in public places from 10:30pm to 7am everyday. If the Bill passes, you'll only be able to get your drink on at home, at approved events or within licensed premises such as bars, cafes and restaurants.

In support of the new laws, retail stores will also stop selling takeaway liquor at 10:30pm. An extension may be granted on a case-by-case basis under the liquor licensing regime.

MHA says the Bill also gives the police the power to intervene early and take necessary action to mitigate risks of disorder and disamenities arising from public drunkenness.

People in S’pore largely miffed that public consumption of alcohol will be banned despite public consultation
The consumption of alcohol between 10.30pm to 7am in public places could soon be banned

In the proposed Bill, people found guilty of drinking after 10.30pm in a public place will face a fine of up to $1,000. A repeat offender will not just face the possibility of a fine of up to $2,000, but also a jail-term of up to three months.

Retail shops across the island will also not be allowed to sell liquor for takeaway from 10.30pm.

A licensee who sells alcohol beyond trading hours stipulated in its licence may be liable to a fine not exceeding $10,000.

related: Alcohol sales & consumption will soon be restricted, Singaporeans get to decide how

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Strip-search powers are excessive

We are troubled that the recently passed liquor control law has extended police powers to include discretionary strip searches for alcohol, with little public consultation in this regard ("New alcohol laws aimed at those who cause trouble"; Jan 31).

Even when conducted in good faith, strip searches are an extreme measure which substantially affects human dignity. They should be used only with especially compelling justification. Allowing police officers to deploy them so widely is a very significant step.

For a strip search to be legal, the Act requires only that the police officer has "reasonable suspicion". This low threshold may authorise many unnecessary strip searches.

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New alcohol laws aimed at those who cause trouble

Islandwide curbs on late-night public drinking and the sale of alcohol are not to stop people from enjoying liquor.

Instead, they are meant to tackle troublemakers and serious alcohol-related offences, said Second Minister for Home Affairs S. Iswaran.

He highlighted that over the last three years, there was on average one rioting incident and two cases of serious hurt that involved liquor each week. "And the trend has been on the rise."

Parliament: Liquor incidents 'disproportionately' higher in Geylang and Little India
Parliament: 47 cases of rioting linked to liquor consumption
Parliament: Public consumption of alcohol may soon be banned islandwide
Bill seeks to curb public drinking late at night

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S'pore to ban drinking in public places after 10:30 p.m

Drinking in public places, including parks and common areas in Housing Board estates, will no longer be allowed after 10.30pm under a new Bill introduced in Parliament yesterday.

The proposed islandwide curbs will last through the night till 7am. The Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) Bill, introduced by Second Minister for Home Affairs S. Iswaran, will also stop retail shops from selling alcohol after 10.30pm.

There will be stricter rules for Little India and Geylang, which will be designated as Liquor Control Zones - places where there is higher risk of public disorder associated with excessive drinking.

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10 things about the proposed alcohol consumption restrictions

A ban on consuming alcohol in public places from 10.30pm to 7am is the major change proposed in a new Liquor Control Bill tabled in Parliament on Monday.

For example, what happens if you're having a barbecue at a park? Can you take away a beer and drink it at your barbecue pit after 10.30pm?
  1. What is a public place?
  2. Where can you drink/not drink?
  3. What if I'm having a barbecue at a park or an event?
  4. What if I want to buy alcohol and drink it at home?
  5. Why not just restrict drinking at some public areas?
  6. Why 10.30pm?
  7. What are the penalties?
  8. What are Liquor Control Zones?
  9. Less strict than other jurisdictions
  10. Not triggered by Dec 8, 2013, riot in Little India
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Bill to curb alcohol sales draws mixed reactions

Proposed laws to ban drinking in public places, including parks and common areas in Housing Board estates, from 10.30pm to 7am could prove unpopular with young clubbers, but have been welcomed by residents living near entertainment districts.

The late-night happenings around Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay have caused many living there to complain about the noise and littering that takes place on weekends and on Wednesday's Ladies' Nights. When The Straits Times visited the area on Friday night, as many as 500 people - mostly adults in their early 20s - were drinking in public, having bought alcohol from shops such as nearby 7-Eleven stores.

Clubbers said they preferred to get a buzz first from cheaper alcohol bought from convenience stores, before heading to clubs where drinks are more expensive.

Parliament: Public consumption of alcohol may soon be banned islandwide
Public drinking ban one option for new alcohol curbs
Plan to ban alcohol in some public areas
Alcohol restrictions common in other countries
Public drinking curbs: Try out less drastic measures first
Can police cope with enforcement?
Is Geylang losing its flavour?
Reach survey finds support for liquor control

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Singapore passes liquor control Bill

Parliament on Friday (Jan 30) passed the Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) Bill. Under the new rules, alcohol cannot be consumed in public places between 10.30pm and 7am every day and take-away alcohol can only be sold up till 10.30pm.

Second Minister for Home Affairs S Iswaran told Parliament there have been compelling reasons for the Home Affairs Ministry to take proactive steps in restricting the supply and consumption of alcohol.

Speaking to the House on the second reading of the Bill, Mr Iswaran said that in 2014, alcohol consumption was linked to 47 cases of rioting and 115 cases of serious hurt - which included stabbings.

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Singapore liquor control bill passed into law

Singapore's Parliament on Friday passed a bill that will ban retail sales and public drinking from 10.30pm to 7am islandwide into law. The law is expected to take effect in April.

"This bill is timely, long overdue and... will bring relief to residents in various localities who have been enduring disorder and disturbances arising from irresponsible liquor consumption in their neighbourhoods," said Second Minister for Home Affairs S Iswaran, who rounded up the parliamentary debate on the bill on Friday afternoon.

In the debate, MPs expressed concerns that reflected the divisive nature of public response to it. Opposition Workers' Party MPs Pritam Singh and Sylvia Lim asked if the terms of the legislation were too far-reaching, suggesting it may be better to allow takeaway sales to continue after-hours. Non-constituency MP Yee Jenn Jong also suggested relaxing restrictions on areas located further from residential areas like parks and beaches with public barbecue pits.

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Law will ban alcohol retail sales in Singapore from 10:30pm

Sharing his thoughts on the new Bill, member of parliament Edwin Tong, deputy chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Law and Home Affairs, told Yahoo Singapore that the current Bill will give police greater powers to curb larger-scale incidents that are caused by excessive consumption of alcohol.
"Beyond the usual offences that we have now, the Miscellaneous Offences Act and the Public Order Act, this gives that a bit more teeth, which I think is useful," he added.

At the same time, however, he stressed that he did not think police would be likely to exploit the powers given under the new Bill to arrest drinkers spotted in public.

"It's hard to speculate, but I don't see the police patrolling just to catch people drinking," he said on Monday evening. "I think there will be a period of adjustment where there will be a lot more public education... a lot more of the 'soft touch' approach initially, while people are getting used to the fact that there are these laws and so on."

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Liquor Control Bill, Singapore (A boon or a bane?) You Booze, You Lose
What is the bill about?

A liquor control bill was passed in the parliament on Friday last week supporting the ban of alcohol consumption in public areas from 10.30pm to 7am in Singapore. The public places are the ones where public can have free access to ranging from open parks to pavements.

Retail sale hours for take-away liquor will also be ending at 10.30pm across the island. Offenders shall be penalized with a fine leading up to 2000 dollars and an imprisonment of up to six months. Considering the operational assessment of the police, specified areas in Little India and Geylang will be designated as Liquor Control Zones.

These are the areas where there is a significant risk of public mayhem owing to excessive alcohol consumption and stricter restrictions and penalties shall thus be imposed there. The parties need to apply for a permit to organize events involving alcohol in public areas, such as barbeque and countdown beach parties.

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Call me an old fogey, but I’m intoxicated with the new liquor control bill

Pour everyone in the house a glass please, because the Singapore government has finally made public drinking (also known as being a public nuisance) illegal.

Here’s a recap of what the new law means:
  • No more public drinking after 10.30pm
  • Retail stores cannot sell alcohol after 10.30pm, unless they have the license to do so
  • Tougher enforcement against public drinking in Little India and Geylang
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Parliament’s new drinking law not steady on its feet

Drinking-related shenanigans have got to go, but this new law makes no sense to me. I am all for an end to the disamenities and crime caused by public drinking. After all, I live within 200m of a popular drinking area, and some people do get a little unruly on the weekends. I’ve even had some of my property damaged by drunks. Yet I believe that this new law is a terrible way to tackle the issue.

According to Second Minister for Home Affairs S. Iswaran, this law was passed to “tamp down liquor-related disamenities and preserve public order, in response to feedback.” Which disamenities? The rioting? The affray? The public drunkenness? The vomiting? The littering? We have laws for these already, and are apparently not enforcing them properly (since so many people seem to still be breaking them). There’s even an existing law against being drunk and incapable in public – why not use what we already have? What is this new law going to add to our police’s ability to keep the peace, and at what cost?

We now have lost the freedom to drink peacefully in public and in return we may not get what we want at all, simply because nobody is putting boots on the ground. People who are daring enough to break one law will have no qualms about breaking two. If the Ministry of Home Affairs can show that its officers are effectively policing existing laws, but that they need more laws to keep people on the straight and narrow, then we can take the Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) law more seriously.

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The Public Drinking Ban
Singapore has done it again

The shisha ban was passed a few months ago, and now it's the ban on public drinking - which has officially been passed. Sigh. And no, I must hasten to add, Singapore hasn't recently converted to Sharia state law and it is not a Muslim country, no no, this is Singapore's slightly over the top reaction (in my opinion) to the Little India riots in 2013 and the rise in prevalence of binge drinking.

Please stop Singapore, you're going to get a name for yourself. You're going to be known as the anti-fun country and I don't want that to happen, because I happen to quite like it here.

For those of you that have had your head in the sand, or just don't read the media here, the new law states:
  • Restriction of consumption of liquor in public places (goodbye to having a picnic with wine)
  • Restriction on retail sale hours for take-away liquor (goodbye to buying a bottle of wine on the way home or doing a quick off-y run during a late night BBQ - this is the one that REALLY worries me!!)
  • Designation of liquor control zones, specifically Geylang and Little India (goodbye to my fun buzzing neighbourhood)
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 The Singapore's Parliament just passed a bill that will ban the sale and public drinking from 10.30pm to 7am island-wide. The law is expected to take effect in April and I, for one, will be most interested in seeing how the police will enforce the law.

This is mainly because of the very loose definition of “public space” and the timing of the ban. I don’t just mean the question of why a coffee-shop would be considered a public space, but also how would the law be enforced! I mean would enforcement officers go to a wedding dinner (for example) to make sure no one can order more beer after 10.30pm? If a coffee-shop is a public space, why not a restaurant?

For those of you who would say the law was designed strictly for foreign workers; I agree. There's no other reason why foreign worker dormitories would be considered "public space otherwise but the problem is that the government felt a need to disguise the law. The need for pretense meant that the law, at least on the books, is for everyone in Singapore.

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The Govt has Shown an Inability to Tackle the Root Cause of the Problem

Two bills tabled in the current parliamentary sitting, Liquor Control (Supply & Consumption) Bill and changes to the Industrial Relations Act, are sold by the government as proactive. Both are actually a demonstration of reactive, regressive leadership and unconcern for citizens’ true welfare.

In essential, the twin bills show the government to be Shackling the Symptoms while Sidestepping their Causes. The Liquor Control Bill - On the surface, the Bill is ostentatiously in response to “concerns raised…by some MPs over alcohol-induced disamenities in their constituencies.” The aim is to ‘curb alcohol sales and consumption in areas with “significant risk of public disorder associated with excessive consumption of alcohol.”

TODAY has helpfully listed countries with existing Public Drinking Rules, I guess, to help ‘educate’ Singaporeans how progressive and responsive the government is. Let’s look closer.

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Overwhelming support for liquor laws: Poll
81% of 1,145 respondents to REACH survey support Bill; approval stronger among women and older respondents

Two days before the laws to restrict public drinking are due to be debated in Parliament, a poll released by Government feedback unit REACH showed overwhelming support for the proposed laws.

Eighty-one per cent of 1,145 respondents said they supported the restrictions under the Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) Bill which was tabled last Monday. The level of support differed across age groups, and was stronger among women and older respondents.

The telephone poll was conducted by REACH between last Tuesday and Monday, involving randomly selected Singaporeans and permanent residents aged 15 and above.

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Reach survey finds support for liquor control
People drinking and hanging out at the Read Bridge at Clarke Quay

For the survey, conducted from Jan 20 to Jan 26, 1,145 people were randomly interviewed over the phone to better understand Singapore residents' views towards the Bill.

Most people are aware of the new Liquor Control Bill and support the new restrictions that come with it.

This is according to a survey commissioned by Reach, an online engagement platform under the Government.

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How drinking survey was fixed
Liquor laws make it tough for foreign workers to find places to chill out with a drink

Not very long ST reported that a survey showed that the majority of respondents tot that proposed ban on drinking alcohol after 10.30 pm in public places (say at barbecue pits) was not on: so another survey was commissioned and it came out with the “right” result. S’poreans wanted it by a huge margin.

What an idiotic survey: “Respondents were also asked if they felt public drunkenness was a serious issue that required addressing. Eight in 10 agreed the issue needed to be tackled, and a similar proportion believed the regulations would be able to clamp down on cases of public drunkenness.”

It’s like asking if people thought shoplifting was a serious issue that needed addressing; and if chopping off the hands of those caught would reduce shoplifting; then concluding that people supported such upper limb amputation.

related: NCMP Yee urges flexibility for liquor sales & consumption

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If the G’s REACH people had rung me to ask about the Liquor Control legislation, I would have answered this way:
  • No, I do not support the restrictions.
  • No, the restrictions, if imposed, would not affect my lifestyle.
  • Then comes the third question: Whether I consider public drunkenness a serious problem that has to be countered. I would have said yes…Because on PRINCIPLE, I would have to agree. But then I would have stopped to ask: You mean public drunkenness here? Now? Is it a serious problem? This country with the lowest alcohol consumption in the world? Seriously?
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After the strong online backlash against the Government's proposed alcohol ban after 10.30PM, the Govt Feedback Unit REACH has released results of a phone survey claiming that there is strong consensus from all segments of Singaporeans, including young people, for the proposed laws to clamp down on late-night public drinking.

The findings of the phone survey commissioned by REACH was presented in Parliament last week. The findings state that 81% of the 1,145 people polled said they were in favour of the Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) Bill.

Among the 200 youths aged 15 - 29 surveyed, 70% of those surveyed backed the Bill. This Bill was most supported by the older generation where 92% of those aged 60 and above agreed to the alcohol ban.

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Does the Proposed Alcohol Ban Have Genuine Public Support?

There shall be no alcohol in public places from 10.30pm to 7.00am everyday. Yes, none at all. Even if you’re having a BBQ by the beach, you are still subject to this law unless you have successfully applied for a liquor consumption permit. Also, if you’re  suspected of being in possession of alcohol, axillary police are empowered to conduct a strip search on you.

I’m not describing a fascist state, I’m talking about our Singapore in the very near future.

Background Information - On Monday, the Liquor Control Bill was tabled in Parliament. This bill seeks to regulate the supply and consumption of liquor at public places island-wide from 10.30pm to 7.00am. The penalty for flouting these rules can result in a fine of $1000 which will be increased to $2000 and imprisonment for up to 3 months for repeat offenders. Clause 22 of this Bill also empowers police officers, including auxiliary police officers, to conduct a strip search on a person who is reasonably suspected to be in breach of these proposed laws.

Singapore Justice Party's Statement on Liquor Control Bill
Debate on Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) Bill – MP Sylvia Lim
NCMP Yee Urges Flexibility for Liquor Sales & Consumption
Does the Proposed Alcohol Ban Have Genuine Public Support?
NCMP Lina Chiam's Parliament Speech Against the Alcohol Control Laws
The Govt has Shown an Inability to Tackle the Root Cause of the Problem
Australia, US and UK have Restrictions on Alcohol Sale, so S'pore Should Have Too
Govt Wants to Ban Public Consumption of Alcohol Between 10:30 pm to 7am

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That alcohol ban poll – can I even say “No”?

When the Ministry of Home Affairs tabled a bill to impose an island-wide ban on the consumption of alcohol in public places after 10.30pm, it cited a “consultation exercise” it conducted, where at least 83% of participants indicated support for the extended ban.

This was in stark contract to the public opinion polled by national broadsheet The Straits Times, which indicated very much the opposite – at least 70% were not in favour of the ban. The discrepancy was noted earlier in a commentary published by The Online Citizen.

In case you might be asking why, we refer to an earlier document on the government outreach platform, REACH, indicating the scope of the “consultation exercise”, what it aims to achieve and the timeline.

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No Drinking After 10:30pm
– Brit in Singapore: The Public Drinking Ban
– Musings From the Lion City: Enforceable?
– fsimplicity: Change
– Bertha Harian: Over-REACHing
– Kent Ridge Common: Liquor Control Bill, Singapore (A boon or a bane?)
– Zhun Bo Sg?: Call me an old fogey, but I’m intoxicated with the new liquor control bill

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