Police powers to be enhanced in new Bill

By Andrew Loh

In its latest reaction to the December riot in Little India, the Ministry of Home Affairs today introduced a new Public Order (Additional Temporary Measures) Bill in Parliament.

The Bill, introduced by Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister, Teo Chee Hean, will allow the police to further regulate the sale, supply and consumption of alcohol in areas in Little India designated as “special zones”.

The police will also have powers to “deal pre-emptively with potential threats to public order in Little India”, according to news reports.

Under the new law, police officers have the power to inspect and interview any persons who enter the zone for alcohol or prohibited items.

The police will also have the authority to exclude or ban persons from entering the special zone for specified durations if the presence or action of this person is “deemed to threaten public order.”

Police officers will also have the authority to strip search a person for alcohol.

“Police officers holding the rank of sergeant and above would be empowered to raid any place within Little India, without a warrant, if the officer reasonably suspects an offence has been, is being, or likely to be committed,” the TODAY newspaper reported.

“The Bill also proposes that the Commissioner or an authorised officer have the power to ban people from entering Little India for up to 30 days if their presence or actions are likely to threaten public order.”

“The Bill proposes that the law will be valid for one year. This will provide sufficient time for my Ministry to enact longer term legislation to take into account the findings and recommendations of the COI (Committee of Inquiry), and recommendations arising from public consultations on the review of the liquor licensing regime,” DPM Teo told the House.

The riot, Singapore’s first in more than 40 years, involved mainly Indian nationals working or residing in Singapore. It was sparked by the death of a worker in a traffic accident.

The 4-member COI, set up on 13 December, will begin its public hearings on 19 February at the Subordinate Courts.

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Separately, Parliament today also saw an Amendments Bill introduced to extend the Criminal Law (Temporary Provision) Act (CLTPA). According to the MHA website:

“The Act was last extended by Parliament in February 2009 and will expire on 20th October 2014.  The CLTPA Bill will seek to extend the Act for a further five years with effect from 21st October 2014.”

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