New public order law to take effect in Little India from Tuesday

Members of the Singapore Police Force Special Operations Command stand along Tekka Lane in front of cordons which have been put in place at the dormitory bus waiting area on Jan 26, 2014.  -- ST FILE PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Members of the Singapore Police Force Special Operations Command stand along Tekka Lane in front of cordons which have been put in place at the dormitory bus waiting area on Jan 26, 2014.  -- ST FILE PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

A new law to keep the peace in Little India will take effect from Tuesday, replacing existing measures invoked on a weekly basis since the Dec 8 riot last year.

The Public Order (Additional Temporary Measures) Act (POATM) passed in Parliament on Feb 18 provides for a focused set of powers, far more limited than the extensive powers available under the Public Order (Preservation) Act, which has been invoked weekly since the riot to maintain order in Little India.

The new law will allow police to "continue to take calibrated measures to maintain public order in Little India (while) the wide-ranging powers under the Public Order (Preservation) Act will no longer apply to Little India henceforth," said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in a media release.

It covers the same area as previously proclaimed.

While there will be no changes to the current restrictions against the sale, supply and consumption of alcohol in Little India, organisers wishing to hold indoor meetings within the special zone will now have to apply for a police permit.

This is to "ensure that public activities that take place in Little India do not disrupt public order", said the MHA.

Both the new law and the permit requirements for indoor meetings will be valid for 12 months, so as to provide sufficient time to implement longer-term measures that take into consideration the recommendations and findings of the Committee of Inquiry into the riot and the ongoing public consultation into the liquor licensing regime.