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    Dec 11, 2013

    Some cheer booze ban, others stunned

    HE MADE the bold move to invest $100,000 to start up his own provision shop in Little India in March, having worked in Singapore since 1996


    But Mr Sadhasivam Kailasam, 41, fears his business in Chander Road - which sells mainly liquor and beer - is going to take a dive.

    Following Sunday's riots, the Government said it will impose a complete ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol this weekend in the Race Course Road area.

    This has unnerved alcohol sellers, though the residents and eateries in the area are happy.

    The bulk of Mr Kailasam's sales comes from selling booze to migrant workers on Sunday evenings. He sells between $6,000 and $8,000 worth of alcohol alone every Sunday while, on weekdays, sales register a total of only $200 to $300 a day.

    Similarly, Mr R. M. Suresh, managing director of Pamban Trading, said he can sell up to $7,000 worth of alcohol on a Sunday, while Ms Vidhya, manager of Sri Deepsikaa Stores, said booze accounts for over 65 per cent of profits.

    The ban is a step to stabilise the situation, with Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew saying that "alcohol could have been a contributory factor" in the riot.

    Rather than a blanket ban, these businesses hope a curfew timing for alcohol sales can be imposed instead, and that the authorities designate specific areas for drinking, like on the grass patches in Race Course Road.

    "It's an open space where everyone can see you, and you can't do anything illegal," said Mr Suresh.

    Still, other businesses in the area welcome the ban.

    Mr Rohit Razdan, manager of the Kashmir restaurant in Race Course Road, said his business suffers by as much as 50 per cent on Sunday evenings.

    This is because some migrant workers get drunk and vomit in the area.

    The 42-year-old said: "It's not a pleasant sight to see when you come with your family."

    Residents like club-operations manager Cevin Sim, 40, feels the ban is a good idea.

    He said: "Drink at the coffee shop or open field by all means, but not at the void decks and playground."

    Mr A. K. M. Mohsin, editor-in-chief of Bengali newspaper Banglar Kantha, said that Little India is a "familiar place" for these workers who are far from home.

    He said: "Some work seven days a week... They don't have a place where they can relax, except Little India."

    Rather than an alcohol ban, he suggested having restrictions on the amount of alcohol workers are allowed to purchase.