From ‘Tekka hawker centre stops selling bottled beer’, 5 Oct 2014, article by Kimberly Spykerman, CNA
Stallholders at Tekka hawker centre have stopped selling bottled beer, as highlighted in recent media reports. Only canned beer is available for sale there. But grassroots leaders hope more can be done to enforce this no-bottles move. They have noticed more people thronging Tekka Centre – particularly after restrictions were put in place to curb alcohol consumption in Little India’s public areas.
The police had engaged stall owners in August and September to reduce the risk of glass bottles being used as weapons in fights. It added that all the stall owners whom police spoke to said they will consider doing so for safety reasons.
…Still, the no-bottles initiative has not stopped some from bringing their own into the hawker centre. This has caused some stallholders to worry about their business, since they stopped selling bottled beer on Oct 1. Hawkers whom Channel NewsAsia spoke to said their customers generally prefer bottled beer to canned beer.
“Price-wise, customers feel canned beer is not worth it compared to bottled beer,” said Maureen Ho, the owner of Little India Hot & Cold Drinks stall. “A can is 500ml, bottle is 640ml. They also feel bottled beer tastes better. For most, when you tell them there’s only canned beer, they get fed up.”
The jury is still out if bottled beer tastes better than canned beer, with people conducting blind taste tests just to address this very important topic. The canned beverage was designed to make the drink portable, with the Americans generally favouring the aluminium, as exemplified by former WWE superstar Stone Cold Steve Austin’s trademark chug.
No one has done an official survey among Singaporeans about their preference, though the notion that bottled beer tastes nicer for the same brand may be psychological. It’s like comparing Coke in a curvy glass bottle vs boring can. It all comes down to presentation. The former just seems, well, ‘sexier’. For example, I can’t remember the last time I saw a Tiger ad featuring people chugging out of a can. Director Anthony Chen draws lusty stares because he has a Tiger bottle nearby. A woman holding a beer bottle probably draws more stares from men than another grabbing a can. ‘Toasting’ with a couple of cans also doesn’t have the desired effect as the consistent, crystal-clear chink of glass bottles. The beer bottle is sophisticated High Society; slick, smooth, neat. The can belongs in a locker room or in a cooler at a hockey match; rough, messy, sweaty. And you don’t get a bucket of free ice cubes with it.
Restrictions are unlikely to stop here following the prohibitions in Little India, as revellers can jolly well bring their alcohol, and fights, elsewhere as a result of the spillover, short of banning glass bottles ENTIRELY. The bottle ban also takes a toll on the livelihoods of drink-stall hawkers, all because our authorities prefer to take the half-hearted way out rather than try to manage the actual root cause of violence. It also penalises the true connoisseur of bottled beer, who instead of just chilling peacefully watching the world go by like he used to, now has to risk maiming his finger prying open a metal tab and stare at a stumpy cylindrical thing for hours. Curiously, the latest campaign for Tiger is called ‘UNCAGE’, which is the last thing you want to see happen in a place like Tekka hawker centre.
If troublemakers want to rough someone up, the absence of glass bottles is not going to hinder a mob from getting creative with other makeshift weapons. A glass mug to hold your canned beer, for example, can cause some serious damage. Tables, chairs, crockery, choppers can all be wielded if you’ve seen classic bar brawls in Western movies. A stray pair of sturdy chopsticks can make the difference between a gash on the head, or eye/nose impalement. The metal tray return shelf itself can crush some ligaments if you topple it onto someone. Or even trays, for that matter, with edges that you could slam onto someone’s jugular repeatedly. In Tekka market itself, a stallholder once tried to attack co-workers with a 1kg frozen SLAB OF BEEF. Even the alternative of beer cans, especially when UNOPENED, can be used as projectiles, or as a melee weapon itself to bash someone’s face in like how one would attack with a heavy stone. The difference from attacking with glass bottles is that you can still drink from the damned can after brutally bloodying someone’s face with it.
The possibilities in a hawker brawl are endless. The same, sadly, can’t be said of the imagination of the authorities.