JAY TALKING

Jay Talking: The Guide To Surviving Singapore’s Public Drinking Ban

-- ST ILLUSTRATION: ADAM LEE
-- ST ILLUSTRATION: ADAM LEE

Instead of debating the merits of it, why not take up Zumba or make babies instead

Up until this week, whenever someone made fun of how strait-laced and boring Singapore was, I'd always retort: "Oh yeah, sure we can't smoke in most places or litter but at least we can drink our booze anywhere we want."

The retort has become a little more complicated on account of new legislation tabled in Parliament that would ban drinking of alcohol in public places between 10.30pm and 7am. During that time, you can't even pop into a shop to grab some booze to drink at home.

You would still, however, be able to continue drinking in bars, coffee shops and restaurants.

There has been much debate on the relative merits of the ban so I won't go further into that. Instead, I thought it would be more productive if I simply focused my mind on what Singaporeans could do to adapt to it.

My first suggestion was to go to Arab Street, smoke some shisha and chill out for a bit, but that's going to be banned too, so clearly we need to think of something else. After spending some time on this, I hereby present Keep Calm And Drink At Home: The Guide To Surviving Singapore's Public Drinking Ban.

A quick note to children: Since this guide is mainly about drinking alcohol, please don't try this at home and certainly don't try this outside the home.

Since it's a little too obvious for me to suggest drinking at home, I'm going to start with...

1. Off-hours drinking

Some people like to see the glass as half- empty. I happen to be one of those who see it as half-full. (And therefore still good for another 45 minutes of partying if I sip slowly.)

So instead of fixating on the fact that public drinking and alcohol sales will be banned from 10.30pm to 7am, let's focus instead on the good news that it is still perfectly legal to booze up in public between 7am and 10.30pm.

That's a solid 121/2 hours of legal drinking time, just over half the entire day. That public drinking regime is more liberal than in many other countries.

Who says you can have alcohol in public only late at night? Feel like a champagne picnic out in the open somewhere? Go ahead, that's perfectly legal. Or have you ever heard of a cocktail tea?

I think we can learn something here from Chinese wedding dinners. At most wedding dinners I've attended, at least 30 per cent of the guests are drunk well before 10.30pm. Some are pretty much gone before the cold dish is served.

Of course, if you don't like this suggestion, you can always go with...

2. Natural buzz

Here's a little bit of an out-of-the- box idea. If the ban on public drinking has made it too difficult for you to get your drink, maybe you can try not drinking. There are a whole lot of other activities you can engage in that can simulate the experience of drinking.

Zumba, for instance. Sure, a lot of you young folk will not see any relation between a dance fitness class and alcohol, but trust me, when you get to my age, they're both approximately the same.

The last time I innocently walked into a Zumba class, I hobbled out of it hurting in mysterious places, feeling dizzy, completely uncoordinated and nauseous. And then I panicked because I couldn't find my phone and keys, realising later that I had left them in the Zumba studio in my extreme rush to get out of that place.

And Zumba isn't the only way. Kickboxing is also very similar to being drunk. I can't think of a replacement activity for the void deck-drinking uncles right now, but I'm sure you get the picture.

Speaking of a natural buzz, there is this other thing you can do at night that is sort of exciting and normally doesn't require public drinking.

3. National service

You know what I'm talking about, right? I mean, this is Singapore's 50th birthday after all, so why not give the country what it wants so badly. If you hurry, there's a nice goodie bag in it for you.

Although, wait a minute. I think I may have figured out the rationale behind this public drinking ban and the shisha ban before it.

It's obvious: They are trying to increase the birth rate.

I mean, just think about it. All manner of incentives have done nothing to increase the birth rate. Young people just refuse to make babies. They'd rather go out and have fun drinking with friends or smoking shisha. So there is only one thing to do, ban every other fun activity. It's genius. Soon, everyone will be so bored they will be forced to make babies.

If my theory is correct, then expect a whole bunch of other late-night activities to get banned: karaoke, midnight movies, supper and who knows what else.

But that would also mean there is a way you can stop all this. If you don't want to see anything else banned, you know what to do.

Bow chicka wow wow.

jeremyau@sph.com.sg