Proposed liquor rules: Police will take action based on situation

SINGAPORE - Police will take action based on the situation and there will be no hard and fast rules when it comes to arresting people who drink in public.

Under a new Bill tabled in Parliament on Monday, drinking in public places - anywhere the public can access - will not be allowed between 10.30pm and 7am. This ban will cover parks and common areas in Housing Board estates, for example. It excludes residences and common areas within condominiums.

Retail shops may also be banned from selling alcohol after 10.30pm.

Exceptions will be allowed on a case-by-case basis.

The proposed law has drawn a flurry of reactions, with many saying that it is too restrictive and harsh.

In response to queries about enforcement, a spokesman for the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that the police will be able to "take a more calibrated approach...based on the circumstances of the situation."

For example, police will first ask the person drinking in a public place during the restricted hours to dispose of the liquor, and take down his particulars. If the person is a public annoyance, police can then ask him to leave .

"If he complies, no further action will be taken," said the spokesman.

"Should the person ignore the advice, or if he is a recalcitrant offender, police may consider stiffer action such as issuing him a composition fine or arrest."

The penalty for first-time offender is a fine not exceeding $1,000. A repeat offender may be fined up to $2,000 and jailed up to three months.

On Tuesday night, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who is also Home Affairs Minister, visited a coffeeshop in Hougang with MP Gan Thiam Poh, and assured patrons that they can continue drinking there.

He wrote on his Facebook page: "Uncle you can continue enjoying your beer at the coffeeshop as before. Coffeeshops can carry on according to their current licensed hours."