Confusion over the new liquor law


From the lowest to the highest food chain everyone enjoys a beer

Late last night I gone down to Elias Mall 24 hr-supermarket to do some errant. As usual, EM brethren were congregating at the coffeeshop. I thought I would just drop by to say hello. I do not usually join them in the night unless there’s an event cuz I need to wake up early the next morning to work.

When I sat down, I sensed something amiss. The usual EM kakis looked glum and gloomy. No beer bottles on the table. It’s unusual to see a clean table. No laughter or jokes. Uncannily quiet with a forlorn mood all round!

Someone passed away?

Answer is No.

When I asked them why were they not drinking as usual? All at once, just like the GPMG (General purpose machine gun), they started firing their response to my innocent question.

Apparently, last Friday (4/3/16) around 11pm, 2 uniform police officers came to “threaten” our EM brethren not to consume beer at the coffeeshop. 2 uniform police officers in their twenties – one of them is a female officer holding the rank of “naked” Sergeant (meaning 3 stripes without the Majulah Singapura crest on top of the 3 stripes. Lowest of the Staff Sgt and Senior Staff Sgt ranks), had threatened to summon them for drinking beer after 10.30pm. No explanation, no warning. Just ordered them to stop drinking and put away all the beer bottles at the coffeeshop premises or they would be summoned under the new alcohol law forbidding drinking after 10.30pm at a public place.

Of course, those EM kakis knew about the latest alcohol law which forbids drinking alcohol at a public place. As law abiding citizens they obediently complied. Only now that they were complaining about the unreasonableness of the new liquor law. Questions were put to me by them such as what if they placed their last beer order at the counter before the 10.30 pm cut-off time? They knew that I was a police officer before. So they GPMGed me with such questions.

I told them to relax lah. Even after 10.30pm, they could still drink in the coffeeshop premises until 7am! It’s only that the coffeeshop counter cannot sell beer or any liquor after 10.30pm as specified under the law. Still they refused to believe what I told them. They said that the 2 police officers specifically ordered them to stop drinking beer around 11pm last Friday at the same coffeeshop.

Out of desperation, I goggled the new liquor law and showed them on my mobile phone. Straightaway, they requested that I WhatsApp to them a screen shot so that they could show it to the police officers in case they were “threatened” with summon again. I told them no need lah. Just tell them to go ahead and issue summon. Let them make themselves the laughing stock for not knowing the law as professional law enforcers!

As this point, Douglas aged 70 yrs; a retired pensioned police officer all his life remarked that nowadays these young police officers are highly educated with high pay and ranks but know “nuts!” In his own words, even the little India mini-riot also couldn’t handle properly, went scattering around hiding inside the ambulance timidly as shown on YouTube for the whole world to see! They only know how to come to Elias Mall coffeeshop to “act tough” and “bully” law abiding citizens drinking beer peacefully without causing any nuisance or trouble at all. Those were the words from a veteran officer of the law who has seen much “terror” in those early days.

I believe most of us are not against the new liquor law. Actually it’s a good law with well intention. Let me elaborate.  I still recall in the late 80s and early 90s when I was attached to SOC, we had to take turns to standby almost every evening near to Golden Mile complex especially on weekends and payday! There were this category of foreign workers (the number has since reduced much with another category taking over them) consuming cheap hard liquor such as “Tiga Bintang” or “Wu Jia Pi” gathered in groups inside Golden Mile complex carpark and around the common areas.  Often, intoxicated with alcohol – late in the evening when alcohol in the blood stream reached optimum level with chattering hitting high decibels, they would gang clash resulting in bottles flying about resulting in bodily injuries and even deaths! That’s when we came in to control the situation. That category of foreign workers were tough hard laborers with a penchant for hard liquor and violence. Normal police officers were outnumbered and couldn’t handle them. Only specially trained SOC officers could do the job. Those were the days when there was no alcohol restrictions law or liquor control.


The above explains why the new liquor law was passed in parliament after much deliberations. It is to target drunk hooligans for the havoc they wreck whilst under the influence of excessive alcohol. It is also another useful tool for the police to act before the situation gets out of control. As such, I feel that it’s a good law with good intention. It was widely debated in parliament before it was eventually passed into law.


Minister's thinking on the new liquor law when it's hotly debated in parliament

The minister also explained that if you were to sit at one corner by yourself after 10.30pm enjoying a can of beer, the police will not go after you! Link But did the officers on the ground get the message? Did they know the intent and purpose of such a law? Or like the 2 young police officers’ – holding the “naked” Sgt rank, manner of using the new liquor law terrorizing innocent law abiding citizens in the neighborhood coffeeshop acceptable? Were they humane or people-centric when they treated EM brethren in such high handed manner? As it is, the police image has taken a hard beating recently in the light of it’s handling of the 14 yr old offender until the Minister had to make a parliamentary statement. Do we need such officers to go around throwing their weight without knowing their power limits and what the law is all about before they carry out their duty?


The new liquor law is clear yet police officers on the ground are confused and not sure

In the meantime, our EM frens’ dejected mood turned for the better after hearing me out! Some of them started circulating screenshot of the new liquor law stating that they could drink after 10.30 pm at coffeeshop premises just in case if the 2 officers were to turn up again! Link


About Gintai_昇泰

I'm a Chinese Singaporean living in the Eastern part of Singapore. I tweet on current affairs & inspirational quotes. I blog on issues or events if they interest me. I write for pleasure. I also write mainly for my family and friends.
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4 Responses to Confusion over the new liquor law

  1. Hi Gintai, I’d like to caution. Beyond 10.30pm, the rules of liquor license applies. This mean that if the coffeeshop’s license is up to 11pm, then the sale is up to 11pm for consumption within that coffeeshop premise. As to whether one can drink beyond 11pm in that particular coffeeshop, I’m not too sure.
    Also, I believe police can tell patrons to ‘get lost’ under the public nuisance act(?) regardless of whether the patrons are drinking within the alcohol restriction or not.

    • Ape,
      Thks for your comment.
      When you drinking in a licensed premises “beyond” 10.30pm without causing any nuisance, can the police order you to stop drinking? That’s the crux of the matter. After reading the link you posted here I’m as confused as you. I believe many drinkers are also confused about the liquor law drinking restrictions. EM kakis told me that in some other coffeeshops they clear all the beer bottles after 10.30pm. Pour all the balance beer🍺 into plastic mugs to conceal the beer! Do we need to resort to such desperate measure? Sigh!

      • My straight answer is no, the police can’t stop you if the license’s stipulated time is beyond 10.30pm.

        My understanding is this – regardless of whether you are causing nuisance or not, you can only drink in a licensed premise up to the time that is prescribed in that (liquor) license. Most coffeeshop’s license is up to 11pm so you can still buy and drink up to that time. Of course if one is causing nuisance, regardless of drinking or not or before or after 10.30pm, there are other regulations to deal with it.
        When ministers or government use words like ‘light touch’ / ‘not actively enforced’, it merely means the police won’t go all out to catch people but that doesn’t mean you can drink beyond the prescribed hours.

        Moving forward, I suppose if you want to maintain in the right side of law, ask the beer sellers what is the trading hours stated in their alcohol license and as added precaution, ask them if there’s been any rowdy patrons recently. I think the encounter with police and your kakis probably arise because someone complains of either noise or fights. Of course the police won’t know who are the perpetrators so when they come, any large group naturally falls under their surveillance.

  2. Just went to Google the Liquor Control (Supply and consumption) Act.;ident=3f4bf806-99ab-45a4-8953-b2ab999891bc;page=0;query=DocId%3Ac0af3b40-60c0-41a2-8c92-0021e978ea00%20%20Status%3Ainforce%20Depth%3A0;rec=0#pr12-he-.

    Appears that even consumption is not allowed beyond the ‘trading hours’ stated in the license.

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