Liquor Control Bill: How other countries and cities in Asia tackle drinking

Singapore tabled on Monday a new Bill to ban public consumption of alcohol from 10.30pm to 7am islandwide. Here is a look at how other countries and cities in the region compare.

BRUNEI: Alcohol is not allowed to be sold, although "private consumption by non-Muslims is allowed", according to information on the official Brunei tourism website. Non-Muslim tourists are allowed to bring in duty-free booze which can be consumed only in hotels and some restaurants.

CHINA: There is no alcohol ban in public places. But as part of President Xi Jinping's frugality campaign since late 2012, local governments and the People's Liberation Army have stepped up efforts to ban officials from drinking so as to curb excessive spending and to improve their public image.

The ban applies mostly during office hours. Sky-high prices of Chinese liquor like Maotai have plummeted as a result of the curb.

INDIA: Alcohol laws are not uniform and quite complex; each of the 29 states and seven union territories has its own laws relating to alcohol. Still a ban on drinking in public places has been around for a long time, in some states going back to the 1960s. In Delhi, anyone caught drinking in public will be fined up to 50,000 rupees (S$1,100) but there is no jail term.

Half a dozen states have alcohol bans, which means it cannot be sold in shops and restaurants. In Gujarat, foreign tourists can buy a 30-day liquor licence or permit and can purchase alcohol at designated hotels. Last year, Kerala became the latest state to impose alcohol curbs, with complete prohibition by 2024.

There are also "dry days" on national holidays like Republic Day when alcohol is not sold in shops or restaurants nationwide.

INDONESIA: No drinking in public places like parks is allowed. A presidential regulation issued last year allows drinks with over 5 per cent alcohol to be sold only on licensed premises such as bars, hotels, restaurants and clubs.

Drinks with under 5 per cent alcohol can be sold in minimarkets or the like. No alcoholic beverages can be sold near places of worship. During the fasting month, no alcohol can be sold.

District and provincial leaders are given leeway on how much they want to limit alcohol distribution. Thus, Aceh, the only province practising syariah law, has a strict alcohol ban and any Muslim caught consuming is liable to punishment, including whipping.

In most other places, however, alcohol regulations are weakly implemented.

MALAYSIA: Muslims are barred from drinking alcohol. Non-Muslims do not face any curbs but some local governments discourage the sale of alcohol in neighbourhoods that are predominantly Muslim. In the states of Kelantan and Terengganu, alcohol bans are enforced in places like hotels, but non-Muslim establishments like Chinese restaurants and sundry shops are pretty much left alone.

THAILAND: No ban on drinking in public places. But alcohol is banned on religious holidays, and in public offices, educational institutions, parks and dormitories.

Alcohol sale is banned in stores from midnight to 11am, and 2pm to 5pm, but available in bars and restaurants.

Lately, in what appears to be a "social order" campaign which some critics say is a licence for corruption, police in Bangkok have stepped up checks on drivers late at night - and there have been anecdotes of bottles of liquor found in cars confiscated.

THE PHILIPPINES: Drinking is banned in public places only during elections, and on a few occasions when crowd control is essential, such as the recent feast of the Black Nazarene.

Otherwise, anyone can drink pretty much any where and at any time of the day. There are at least three cities - Manila and Caloocan in the capital region, and Davao in Mindanao province - that have passed ordinances banning street drinking. But the fines are so minuscule and enforcement virtually non-existent in Manila and Caloocan that the bans are largely ineffective.

Davao, on the other hand, is strictly enforcing an ordinance passed in 2013 banning stores and bars from selling or serving alcohol from 1am to 8am.


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