‘Little India’: Diverging Destinies in Heritage Spaces , pp. 6 of 10

A further immediate response to perceived mob culpability can be seen in the prompt action by the Liquors Licensing Board (LLB) to suspend all liquor licences in the “Little India cluster and surrounding vicinity” from 6am on Saturday 14 December until 5.59am on Monday 16 December, to “help to stabilise the situation and allow (the police) to assess the next steps in consultation with various stakeholders” (Straits Times, 11 December 2013). While the timing and conditions of the ban were subsequently eased, restrictions on public consumption of alcohol in Little India have been continued. On 15 February 2014, parliament passed the new “Public Order (Additional Temporary Measures) Bill” which granted police the power to exclude or ban people from entering the Little India area if their conduct was assessed to threaten public order; to search any vehicle, people or place reasonably suspected of being related to an offence; and enact a general prohibition on alcohol sale, supply and consumption in any public place within the special zone. By October 2014, Tekka market “retailers have been asked to stop selling bottled beer to prevent their use as weapons” (Straits Times, 7 October 2014). The Second Minister for Home Affairs, Mr S. Iswaran’s clarifications (Home Team News. 19 February 2014):

The provisions in the Bill are targeted at behaviour that threatens public order, and not at specific individuals, communities or businesses… and apply equally to all persons, and business operators within the special zone without exception, whatever their ethnicity, whatever their nationality.

Yet, these measures were specifically directed to maintain public order in Little India, with no similar powers extended to the many other places that regularly experience large potentially volatile congregations. This particularised response to the Little India situation took on a controversial shape in a mock anti-riot exercise in November 2014 described as a “meaningful collaboration” but heavily criticized by workers’ rights organisation as racist, demeaning, dehumanizing and offensive (Straits Times, 13 November 2014).

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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