Beer promoters banned from hawker centres

From ‘Why are coffee shops allowed beer promoters?’, 21 May 2015, ST Forum

(Rajasegaran Ramasamy): I FULLY support the “no go” for beer promoters in hawker centres (“Breweries told to withdraw beer promoters from hawker centres”; yesterday).

I am puzzled that the National Environment Agency has decided to implement the ban only at hawker centres.

Why are coffee shops, where these promoters also operate, exempted? Are they either registered stallholders or stall assistants? Alcohol, like cigarettes, can be addictive, and its promotion should be discouraged at all premises.

The reason NEA gave for the ban was that beer promoting activities may give rise to ‘disamenities’ such as touting and patron harassment, not so much that alcohol is bad and beer ladies, by peddling their addictive product to uncles, are part of a nationwide problem, as the writer suggests. Beer bottles were recently banned from Tekka hawker centre in order to eliminate the ‘disamenity’ of people threatening each other with broken glass shards. If we want to purge our society of any form of beer promotion short of banning alcohol entirely, why stop at beer servers? How about banning Tiger beer ads about ‘The Unofficial History of Singapore’? Or ban any form of beer sponsorship  of major sporting events because we don’t want our aspiring sportsmen to be ‘under the influence’ after competitions? Let’s all hide beer behind the counter like cigarettes too, so that we have more fridge space for our healthy oxygenated mineral water.

If such disamenities do in fact exist, however, NEA is merely transferring the problem elsewhere, such as the ‘fierce competition’ already happening in some kopitiams between the ‘beer aunty’ and the ‘pretty little things’ in tight polo-Ts and mini skirts. Maybe we should start banning bottles from coffee shops too, before they turn catfights into blood brawls.

‘Disamenities’ is a terrible catch-all word to describe social ‘problems’ that seems to apply exclusively to consequences of inebriation. MP Indranee Rajah includes ‘peeing in the river‘ as one such disamenity. So is puking on the sidewalk or talking loudly, anything that may be classified as a nuisance without becoming a full-blown crime like drunk-driving your car into someone’s living room or rioting on the streets. I used to think it referred to any business or establishment that does the opposite of what a proper ‘amenity’ is supposed to do, like a void deck karaoke room or a bustling watering hole with live bands playing past midnight. These days, it refers to specific human activities like beer ladies fighting for the attention of some half-drunken sweaty uncle. If your beer buddy is misbehaving in public, he’s not just a menace, he’s also a ‘disamenity’. Try explaining the term to him and it may just stump him into sobriety.

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