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)
The penalty: First time offenders a $1,000 fine, repeat offenders a $2,000 fine and up to three months’ jail time.
I don’t know what to say. I worked on a health campaign a few years ago, so I do understand that there has been a fractional rise in binge drinking. I hasten to accentuate the word fractional because the latest HPB survey shows that binge drinking prevalence has increased from 14.1 to 15.5% – and I think that is rather fractional. The uptake in binge drinking was most evident in people aged 18-29, which is hardly surprising – it’s students and young professionals letting off a bit of steam. I DREAD to think what the comparison to the London statistics would be. Or even the closer city of Hong Kong statistics.
And I do understand that the riots in Little India were bad (I mean bad is a hyperbolic description for something that happened once, hasn’t happened since and was hopefully a one off situation – although it certainly added some excitement to December 2013 – Singapore had a gritty side suddenly)
I think, to be honest, a blanket nationwide ban on public consumption of alcohol is a bit excessive and because of it once again Singapore is going to be known for taking away the right, the freedom to choose to drink. The onus ought to be on the individuals. People need to learn – it’s a part of growing up and part of being a multi-cultural city.
However, panic not readers (because I know you’re worried I will stop drinking as a result of this), I am not going to let this get the better of me – I am going to stock up in the duty free shop so that the retail sale hours don’t affect me and my hospitality. No retail runs shall be needed when I sell my furniture and fill my house with wine instead.
You might be able to take the fun away Singapore, but you won’t take the party away…
This story was written by Poppy MasonWatts, who blogs at A Brit in Singapore.
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