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Singapore curbs public drinking after first riot in four decades

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Singapore on Friday passed a law to restrict the sale and consumption of alcohol in public areas after the city's first riot in more than four decades.

[SINGAPORE] Singapore on Friday passed a law to restrict the sale and consumption of alcohol in public areas after the city's first riot in more than four decades.

The law prevents people from drinking in public places between 10.30pm and 7am, as well as the sale of alcohol in retail shops during that period, Second Minister for Home Affairs S Iswaran said in Parliament on Friday.

"There were widespread calls and compelling needs on the ground for the Ministry of Home Affairs to consider proactive measures to restrict the supply and consumption of liquor in public places," Mr Iswaran said, adding that the curbs are needed to avert any inconvenience caused to residents and "mitigate the risks to law and order."

Singapore restricted the sale and consumption of alcohol in the Little India district after a riot broke out in December 2013 in the area, which attracts thousands of foreign workers on their Sunday day off. An average of 530 people were found "drunk and incapable" in public places in the city-state over the last three years, according to Iswaran.

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The Ministry of Home Affairs began a review of liquor control measures in September 2012 after receiving public feedback over law and order concerns associated with public drunkenness, it said in a statement earlier this month. Alcohol was a "major contributory factor" to the riot in 2013, Mr Iswaran said on Friday, citing an official inquiry into the incident.

Individuals who are drunk and incapable of taking care of themselves in public can be fined as much as S$1,000 (US$740) or face a one-month jail term, or both, according to the bill. The penalty for selling alcohol outside the restricted hours and areas includes a fine not exceeding S$10,000.

"We have a rather liberal regime compared to major prominent cities around the world," Mr Iswaran said. The government studied liquor curbs in cities from New York to Sydney to "understand how certain curbs were implemented in such cities without diminishing their vibrancy or imposing undue constraints on their citizens," he said.

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