Published: 09 July 2018
Mr Desmond Choo: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs how is the Ministry evolving its licensing regimes to ensure that Singapore continues to develop into an attractive location for work and play without compromising on our public order.
1. To ensure Singapore remains an attractive place for work and leisure, public safety and order have to be maintained. MHA regulates activities which present risks to public safety, security, and law and order.
2. MHA consults stakeholders such as ministries, industry associations and businesses when developing the regulations. We take into account business and other community interests, and adopt a calibrated, risk-based approach that is reviewed regularly.
3. For example, nightclubs, bars and similar nightlife establishments are regulated under the Public Entertainments Act to maintain law and order, and public safety at these establishments. When the Public Entertainments Act was recently reviewed, we consulted extensively with the Singapore Nightlife Business Association (SNBA). Their inputs were considered and taken in. For instance, in updating the demerit points regime under the Public Entertainments Act.
4. But where there are law and order problems on the ground, MHA has a responsibility to act firmly. Due to a rise in violent crimes in Clarke Quay, we have, since 2013, restricted liquor licensing hours in Clarke Quay from 6am to 3am the day after on weekdays and 4am the day after on weekends and the eve of Public Holidays.
5. In addition to regulations, regular police patrols and enforcement, the Police also work with licensees and the community to promote responsible business operations and help maintain law and order. The Police, the Singapore Tourism Board and precinct stakeholders collaborated to make Clarke Quay a safer entertainment zone for patrons. Through this collaboration, Clarke Quay has strengthened training of security officers, improved sharing of information, and introduced a code of practice that sets out best practices for entertainment outlets, such as the serving of complimentary water to patrons who consume liquor to slow down the rate of intoxication, and bag checks.
6. These efforts contributed to an improvement in the law and order situation in the precinct between 2013 and 2016. As a result of these improvements, we recalibrated the restrictions, and allowed extended hours on some Fridays each month, and for special events such as F1-related festivities. Where we can, we have taken in suggestions from our partners and relaxed the regulatory requirements, but public safety and order must always be our key priority.
7. We monitor law and order closely and have noticed an increase in crimes such as fighting and drunkenness in Clarke Quay over the past year. This may be due to the increased number of patrons visiting Clarke Quay. We will continue to monitor the situation closely, make adjustments if necessary, and partner stakeholders to ensure that our city maintains its attractiveness without compromising on our public order.