Banning Consumption of Alcohol in Public - The Real Meaning

"Never overlook the good in a bad situation"

It was indeed pleasing to see many Singaporeans and especially Indians debating and expressing their opinions about the bill, which was recently tabled in Parliament. While anybody is entitled to form their own opinion, we felt that we should provide you with as much information possible for you to develop an informed opinion. Firstly, we must credit the FB status that triggered the need for this article.

Contrary to the what post suggests, a significant number of people are actually in favour of the bill. If this bill gets passed,  we will no longer get to see the following.

Yes, Singapore would be a better looking place without all that mess. But, at what cost? Are we overreacting because of a few bad apples? Perhaps we should consider the history behind this bill, which ironically begin because of an Indian.

In 2011, Indranee Rajah mooted the idea of a no-alcohol zone who went on to state that “The root of the problem is the drinking in the public space around the river. The only effective solution would be to designate certain areas as no-alcohol zones.”

The Government did nothing until the Little India riots took place in December 2013. We are probably the first country in the world that has blamed alcohol as the cause of a riot. I do not disagree that alcohol may have fueled the violence but it's curious that a riot, where the target of violence was limited to the Police and other uniformed authorities  and nothing else, had no other probable cause identified.

When an incident against the state takes place, the Government is always put in a position where they are pressured to act. They need to show that they have taken measures so that a similar incident will not repeat itself. Such acts would normally result in the private citizen losing some of his existing rights to the Government. In this case, the citizen's freedom to consume alcohol at place of his desire has been compromised. Let's get this straight, the cause of the Little India Riots was not alcohol.

Until or unless we get that straight, this will forever  be a joke in our nations history. What is the problem? Consumption of alcohol is not the problem here. It is the effects of irresponsible consumption of alcohol, a problem which could have easily been countered with targeted increase in enforcement.  There are some void decks which are equipped with cameras. Perhaps we could install more cameras which would serve as a form of deterrence and encourage people to clear up after their mess.

If the drinking around the river is the problem,  the Government should be working with NEA  to deploy more enforcement officers in the area.  If consumption of alcohol among the youth is a problem the Government wants to tackle, raising the legal drinking age to 21 is an option. There used to be time , where Singapore was a campaign nation. We believed in educating our people . Those times have changed.

Our Government seems to lack that patience and believes in implementing change over night via the creation of criminal offences which would instill fear in the people.

It is true that campaigns and education are expensive and may not be as high a priority as compared to giving scholarships to foreign students and purchasing new fireworks, if you get what I mean. The individual man should have his right to have a chilled beer after work his regardless of how late he ends. Its the duty of the authorities to ensure that this man's safety is still intact and troublemakers are apprehended.

Having said this, I could still convince myself that this is a good bill for the people as it does limit the consumption of a widely accepted vice until I read in the bill that foreign dormitories would be considered to be "public place" within the definitions of the Act. What was the point in that? The average foreign worker  earns a meagre salary and spends the entire day in the hot sun doing manual labour, do we really expect him to go to Harry's Bar  and order a pint? If dormitories are to be considered a public place, then all condominiums should be too.  The foreign worker resorts to drinking or sometimes eating at void decks or road sides because he has no choice. The life that this Country has provided him with.

Recently, I was invited to be a speaker in talk show where one of the topics of discussion was whether today's youth are impatient and expect results immediately in their endeavours. Well, when the Government of today has the tendency to act hastily, concentrating only on the solution and not the process, what do you expect from the people?

This bill is a over-kill. If killer litter was a problem, should we educate people, increase penalties and step up on enforcement ? Or, should we seal all windows? Think about it. At the end of the day, you must realise that the folks in Parliament are your servants that you have chosen to represent your needs and problems.  No point in waiting till the next elections to show your displeasure, if any. Choose to act now.

[Note: This is merely the writer's opinion. Please feel free to disagree and leave your comments. We encourage alternative opinions as a form of discussion]

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