Monday, December 9, 2013

After the Little India Riots in Singapore, the government decides on a ban on alcohol, a policy guaranteed to fail

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the immediate aftermath of the devastating rioting in Singapore's Little India yesterday, when scores of angry Indian national workers went on a rampage burning police cars and attacking policemen who had to be admitted to hospital, the government has once again predictably come up with another harebrained policy which once again is sure to fail. Which begs the question, why are these men in government paid millions anyway?

This time these Singaporean ministers have decided that the vicinity of the rioting, Little India Singapore, has to have a complete ban on alcohol, neither sale nor consumption. Although they have not stated the boundaries of the ban and how far it will extend, but a ban in that area there will be. Please see Singapore State Controlled Newspaper Straits Times article of Dec 09, 2013 titled "Little India riot: Complete ban on alcohol in Race Course Road area this coming weekend" Please see

Surely you don't have to be smart or even intelligent to know this policy is sure to fail.

If they are unable to buy alcohol in Little India, all they have to do is to buy it elsewhere and bring it there. If they are unable to consume alcohol there, all they have to do is to thoroughly get drunk elsewhere and then come to Little India. If they want to drink more, all they have to do is to travel a mere few meters beyond the limit, have another few drinks and come back to Little India. Or better still, get someone to buy sufficient quantities of liquor, and standby at the border line of the no alcohol zone and dispense it like a mobile bartender.

In fact enterprising Singaporeans might want to cash in on a lucrative liquor business by selling alcohol at the Little India Singapore no alcohol line as mobile liquor sellers.

Assuming they make another idiotic rule that you cannot be inebriated, after having a few drinking at the boundary line,  how are they going to enforce it? By getting an ethnic Chinese or Malay policemen to give every Indian in sight a breathalyzer!

And the enforcement of these silly rules would probably result in violence anyway! What if some idiot ethnic Chinese policeman approaches an Indian demanding to know if he anything to drink only to be answered with a punch across his tiny flat Chinese nose?

And when there is an altercation between an ethnic Chinese person and an Indian in Little India where it is sardine packed with their fellow countrymen, is it not likely that the others would want to join in and give him a proper beating too? Would he not, as they say, be in the wrong place at the wrong time?

And then what about the liquor shops in the area. Their biggest source of profits was selling liquor to Indian foreign workers who congregate in the area in the tens of thousands. And Indians are known to have a strong appetite for a good drink. I should know. I am an ethnic Indian.

An alcohol ban in the area would mean a severe loss of profit for every liquor shop in the area. Have they considered this point? I guess not. And are they going to compensate them for the loss of earnings? I guess not too.

And particularly hard hit would be the Chinese woman and her husband who run a quaint looking hole in the wall liquor shop next to Gandhi Eating House in Chander Road.

During my ill fated trip to Singapore in 2008 when I was jailed because Lee Kuan Yew's son was not happy with a blog I wrote; I used to have a Scotch sitting on a stool outside this woman's shop. If you are in Singapore I strongly recommend your visiting her shop. It not only has all manner of liquor, it also has a some interesting antiques. The place feels as if you were entering a cuckoo clock house. And if you happen to meet her, send my regards.

PS: The shop is Yeo Buan Heng Liquor Shop, 27 Chander Road, Singapore 219536, Tel: (65) 6293 8242.

The shop is along Chander Road which runs parallel to Race Course Road where the rioting happened, just next to an Indian restaurant called Gandhi Eating House. By the way the food there is excellent. Very often I wish was there, but Lee Kuan Yew's son had me deported which means unfortunately this is not momentarily possible.

All of the Singapore government's insurmountable almost existential problems to which they have no answers is because they are simply incapable of thinking through what they legislate. And this problem is not unique to Singapore, you find that with all dictatorships, because if you are not accountable to anyone, very often your policies usually don't make any sense.

Let me give you an example. Today the greatest problem they face to which they simply have no answer is their languishing population. Today, native local born Singaporeans numbers have declined to no more than 2 million which numbers continues to decline rapidly. Firstly people are not getting married and even if they do, they don't have any children. Singapore has the lowest fertility rate in the world. Very soon, the island would be made up entirely of foreigners.

The reason is that in the 1960s Lee Kuan Yew's government forced Singaporeans not to have more than two children. Anyone who had more were punished with tax disincentives and many were forced to sterilize against their will. The result is what you see today; the lowest fertility rate in the world. And no attempt by the government through tax benefits and money can reverse it.

Second, anyone with any sense would have realized that with global warming and sea level rise, you cannot simply continue building. The island itself would have to be raised or some other action taken to avoid island wide flooding. Did they think about this? No! And today you see flooding right across the island almost daily with waters rising ever higher and higher by the day. Scores of expensive cars and property damage happens each time it floods. Have they have any ideas to stop from going underwater? None.

And then the reason for these riots. There are now about 3 million foreign workers in the island. Many from India, China and other Asian countries. Anyone with a head would have known that foreign workers would bring with them foreign lifestyles. In the case of these Indian workers mainly from Tamil Nadu, India, a democracy, when people are angry with government policy, they very often protest and demonstrate, sometimes violently. But it appears that Singapore's million dollar ministers never thought of the fact that foreign workers in such large numbers is the perfect recipe for disaster.

With this latest obviously silly policy of a dry Little India Singapore, it appears to me that Lee Kuan Yew's son and his government are really not concerned with solving the real cause of the rioting, they are more concerned with coming up with action simply to convince Singaporeans that they have done something.

That it appears is all they are doing in this case. Otherwise why would they come up with a policy such as this which is not only sure to fail, but one which is patently suited to cause the very riots which they claim to avoid!

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
A Singaporean in Exile
Fremont, California USA
Tel: 510 491 8525


Anonymous said...

A consequence of LKY's growth-at-any-cost economic policies.

The real losers are the Singapore Citizens, the majority of whom are marginalised by these flawed policies that require unfettered importation of foreign workers to keep the GDP 'growing'.

Gopalan Nair said...

To Anonymous who said

"A consequence of LKY's growth-at-any-cost economic policies."

Singapore has reached the point of no return. They have to continue importing workers, otherwise they will go into recession.