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     FrontPage Edition: Sun 18 February 2007

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Alcoholic beverages consumption in foreign workers' dormitories


Written Answer to Parliamentary Question on Consumption of Alcoholic Beverages in Foreign Workers Dormitory

Mr Cedric Foo Chee Keng:
To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs whether foreign workers are allowed to consume alcoholic beverages in their dormitory compound and, if not, will the Ministry reconsider this policy so as to reduce the number of foreign workers loitering, drinking and creating disturbances in HDB housing estates.
Mr Wong Kan Seng:
Whilst Police regulates the sale of alcoholic beverages in licensed outlets, generally, it does not regulate the consumption of such beverages.
Police had previously discouraged the consumption of alcoholic beverages in foreign worker dormitories to minimise possible law and order problems due to drunkenness, which can be difficult to tackle within the confines of a dormitory.
It is for this same reason that some dormitory operators impose their own ¡°house rules¡± to prohibit or restrict the consumption of alcoholic beverages within their premises.
However, if the law and order concerns can be managed, we are prepared to modify the present policy and allow foreign workers to drink alcoholic beverages in designated areas within their dormitories.
In a pilot test, Police has allowed beer to be sold in four dormitories1, and where the beer is then consumed at designated social areas inside the dormitories.
The operators of these dormitories have to comply with conditions in the beer licence and take necessary measures to ensure that law and order within the dormitory is not compromised.
They also have to ensure that they can effectively deal with any problem arising from the workers¡¯ drunken behaviour. Thus far, Police has not encountered any serious law and order problems resulting from beer being sold and consumed in these dormitories2.
Police is now conducting a review to assess if the sale and consumption of beer can be extended to other dormitories.
1These dormitories are Acacia Lodge, Starlite Dormitory, Jurong Penjuru Dormitory and Toh Guan Dormitory.

2Incidents involving intoxicated foreign workers at these dormitories generally arise from disputes. There was only one case of voluntarily causing hurt at Starlite Dormitory in Oct 2006.

Source: News Release 12 Feb 2007

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