Singapore — Rights activists and opposition political leaders have criticized the Singapore government for imposing an alcohol ban on the district hit by rioting last weekend.
The ban takes effect this Saturday and Sunday in Little India, the site of the worst public violence to hit Singapore in more than 40 years last Sunday.
Some 400 people took part in the rioting, clashing with police and setting fire to vehicles after an Indian migrant was hit by a bus and killed.
Some witnesses have said the rioting mob was drunk on alcohol while enjoying their weekly day off in an area packed with migrant workers from South India.
The government believes alcohol played a role in the outbreak of violence, and sees this weekend’s ban as justified.
But critics are slamming the ban as an “alcohol apartheid”, and are concerned that the ban may be extended in the future, say reports.
Opposition Reform Party leader Kenneth Jeyaretnam said government ministers “are conveniently suggesting that alcohol consumption is to blame for the riot rather than looking to their own failed immigration and labour policies”.
“Statements such as these also carry the subliminal message that ‘Indians’ are somehow more likely to abuse alcohol and become violent than other groups,” he said, adding that expats of many nationalities have been involved in violent alcohol-fuelled incidents.
Human rights activists have also expressed concern over the blanket ban on the sale of alcohol.
Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch deputy director for Asia, said “One wonders whether this is a temporary measure or whether it will become a permanent regulatory restriction that targets a particular area that is overwhelmingly occupied by one ethnic group,” dpa reported.