Grey areas in new liquor laws


Tong Hsien-Hui

Published: 4:11 AM, February 2, 2015

I refer to the report “Stricter alcohol laws passed, expected to take effect in April” (Jan 31).

While I support the liquor laws passed on Friday, I feel that the discussion and replies in Parliament have not given the public a clear understanding of the new boundaries.

The impression is that a light touch will be imposed if there is no drunkenness or rowdiness. The subjective nature of such statements may lead to misunderstanding between law enforcers and those who are the subject of this enforcement.

Further, residents’ expectations have been raised that they can call the police if they find instances of public drinking after 10.30pm. Will the police then impose a penalty even if there is no rowdiness or drunkenness?

It is never good to draft a law and then publicise that there are grey areas. The police, not Parliament, should determine the boundaries depending on the situation and the letter of the law.

I have further questions: Are retailers obliged to remove alcohol from their shelves after 10.30pm or only forbid transactions?

If I cannot finish my wine at a restaurant, would I be contravening the law by carrying the half-finished bottle home?

Can the issuance of liquor licences be controlled in areas such as Little India and Geylang? Raising licence fees might make more sense than designating these areas as special zones.