Booze noose tightens around Geylang
THE days when drunken men sipped their beers late into the night in Geylang appear to be numbered.
Coffeeshop owners now speak of people in plainclothes who show up around midnight, around the time they are supposed to stop serving alcohol. And around the time that customers are supposed to stop drinking, they whip out cameras and start clicking photographs.
The police officers are on the prowl and coffeshops are feeling the strain.
The target is serving of liquor beyond stipulated hours - and it seems they have hit their mark.
My Paper visited nine coffeeshops in the area yesterday. Four of them said that they had had their liquor licences revoked over the past two months.
Estimates of the total number of licences revoked in the area ranged from 14 to 20.
This situation comes shortly after the Committee of Inquiry into the Little India riots suggested measures should be implemented at hot spots where "large crowds typically indulge in heavy drinking", such as Little India and Geylang.
That is happening now, but coffeeshop owners are sulking.
Mr Choo Eng Soon, manager of a coffee shop at Lorong 15 Geylang, said that his business will have to close by month-end because of the huge drop in earnings after his liquor licence was revoked two months ago. Beer sales make up more than half of his shop's daily earnings.
Some coffeeshop owners told My Paper that, according to regulations, they have to stop selling liquor by midnight. Others said customers can still consume alcohol within their premises before 1am.
My Paper understands that these conditions are subject to factors such as the types of licences they have.
"We tell our customers to finish their drinks before 1am but they don't listen... They are not the ones who pay the fine. We end up being the ones most badly affected," said 80-year-old Mr Choo.
Chef Qiao Junhui who works at a Geylang coffeeshop said that ever since their liquor licence was suspended last month, they have seen a 90 per cent drop in customer traffic on a weekday night. "Customers want to have food with beer. When you tell them you don't serve beer, they will turn away and leave," he said.
Another coffeeshop owner who only wanted to be known as Mr Keu said he feels that enforcements are stricter after the Little India riot took place. "I was fined $300 the last time round. I didn't think the police would be so strict," said the 42-year-old.
During the Committee of Inquiry hearing, it was revealed that Geylang had 183 liquor licensees per sq km last year.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JACQUELINE WOO