Saturday, April 19, 2014   

Booze ban in Singapore’s Little India after rioting, 374 businesses affected
(12-12 20:20)

Singapore banned alcohol sales and consumption this weekend in a district where South Asian workers rioted following a traffic accident that killed an Indian construction worker last Sunday night.
Vendors are banned from selling alcohol in a district called “Little India’’ from Saturday morning to early Monday. Singapore Police Force declared the zone a “proclaimed area'' under the Public Order Preservation Act, AFP reports.
The provision allows police act against anyone who consumes alcohol in the district.
On Sunday, at about 9:30pm, some 400 South Asian workers rioted burning police cars and ambulances. By the time the riot was subdued, 39 people including police officers were injured and 25 vehicles damaged or burnt.
Local residents, shopkeepers and government ministers have said alcohol may have been a contributory factor in the rioting.
“The suspension of alcohol sales and consumption is necessary to calm and stabilize the situation at Little India following last Sunday's riot and to prevent further public order incidents from occurring,'' police said in a statement.
Thirty-one Indian nationals have so far been charged with rioting for their involvement and face up to seven years in jail and caning.
The riot erupted after an Indian construction worker was struck and killed by a private bus in the district.
Activists have urged authorities to investigate whether the violence on Sunday was an indication of wider discontent among low-wage migrant workers.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has set up a panel to investigate.
In its statement, police said the suspension of alcohol sales and consumption will affect 374 “stakeholders and establishments'' in the Little India district and its immediate vicinity.
“Eventually, police is likely to recalibrate the alcohol ban in a graduated and measured way,'' it said.
“Even after we have lifted the alcohol ban, there will in most likelihood continue to be certain restrictions on the sale of alcohol, and certain areas where alcohol consumption will not be allowed,'' it said.
Police have stepped up their presence in the district and installed an additional 26 street surveillance cameras in the aftermath of Sunday's riot.
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