Beer promoters and stall holders seen trying to work around recent NEA ban

SINGAPORE- Beer promoters can no longer work at hawker centres here, but it seems they have found a way around restrictions by the National Environment Agency (NEA).

Dressed in plainclothes, they now do not pick up bottles, open them or pour drinks for patrons. Instead, like waitresses, they only order from drinks stalls on behalf of customers, Chinese evening newspaper Shin Min Daily News reported on Friday after doing its own investigation on the ground.

Apart from that, Shin Min reported that they sit with customers and talk to them. The stall owners now serve the customers.

The paper also reported that at some hawker centres, stall owners are doubling up as beer promoters, serving the drinks, and sitting down and talking to customers as well.

Breweries were asked to withdraw their beer promoters from the 107 markets and hawker centres managed by the NEA earlier in May.

Letters were sent to drink stall operators, and promoters have stopped working at hawker centres for about two weeks.

In a letter seen by The Straits Times earlier this week, Ms Yew Meng Yet, assistant director (tenancy management) of NEA's hawker centres division, said NEA does not allow beer promoters at hawker centres as this could lead to touting among the various drink stalls.

The NEA also said in response to queries that it does not allow any beer promotion in hawker centres as beer promoters are not stallholders or registered stall assistants.

While some stalls have changed their tactics in a bid to follow the rules, others have been less abiding.

A check by Shin Min at a hawker centre in Chinatown showed that on Thursday afternoon (May 21), there were at least two beer promoters working while plainclothed, and one of them was seen pouring drinks for customers.

A check by The Straits Times showed that many of the 600-odd beer promoters here come from China, Malaysia and Vietnam.

In the same letter seen by ST, Ms Yew reiterated that non-Singaporeans are also not allowed to operate or assist at hawker stalls.

jalmsab@sph.com.sg