SPEECH BY ER DR LEE BEE WAH, MP FOR NEE SOON GRC, AT THE SECOND READING OF THE PUBLIC ENTERTAINMENTS AND MEETINGS (AMENDMENT) BILL IN PARLIAMENT ON XX MAY 2017
1. Singapore is a tourism hub and we also want to promote art and culture for our local community. So, the number and variety of public entertainment and arts entertainment activities are likely to rise in the months ahead. This is a good sign as this suggests that more Singaporeans are becoming more appreciative and receptive towards various cultures, art forms, sports events and so forth. Moreover, the abundance of entertainment, many from overseas, reflect our nation’s openness and acceptance of different cultures. All said, we should also respect the values of our own Asian culture and not allow individuals or groups to misuse art to become an affront to others. Worse if they are used to promote radical ideology.
2. I am pleased to note that stricter guidelines and policing policies have been introduced to be stricter on operators of places of entertainment. I believe the management should do more than just deploying bouncers. But they should have ground staff who would see to it that the safety of the patrons are safeguarded. Those who allow drugs to be sold on their premises should be charged. They should never allow the use of illicit means to draw the crowd. The operators should also be asked to post a bond to ensure compliance with licensing regulations.
While it is easy for licence owners to point a finger at its employees, i feel the owners should not run the business by proxy. Can the Minister say that all applicants for PE licences are screened for criminal records? Would this screening apply to their key staff running the operations? To date how many owners have been taken to task or charged for violating the licensing conditions?
Will those holding licences now and found unsuitable under this new Bill be asked to surrender the licence? Are foreigners allowed to apply for a licence? If so how are they to be held responsible?
Government ministries must coordinate their efforts or we would end up wasting public funds. This is like in the one hand so many jackpot machines were allowed at a soccer club when on the other we watched over licensed casinos like a hawk and imposed entry fees for locals.
3. The downside of drinking is when one gets one too many, rowdy behavior, sometimes culminating in brawls would occur. In one incident that came to mind was the tragic case of an American stuntman was badly beaten outside a club and succumbed to his injuries . Recently, we read of a fatal stabbing hours after the night club shuttered its doors to the last customer.
4. If I may ask how much resources are committed to policing night clubs, pubs, discos, karaoke joints, eating places that serve alcohol and the like? Our Police, Customs, Immigration officers are stretched in this era of constant threat of terrorism, where they have to protect our shoreline. May I ask how many fights are attributed to drunk patrons and staring incidents at these night spots in the past two years? I take pride in the efficiency of our Home Affairs Ministry. I think we should impose greater responsibility on the operators of these night spots to provide protection to the public and maintain good order. Can it be made mandatory for nightlife spots to hire better qualified and trained security officers to maintain public order outside their premises?
5. Next, what is the guideline for the approval of locations for nightlife spots? URA says it will take into account resident feedback, but is there a fixed guideline for the minimum distance from say residences and religious places?
There are a few pubs and games arcades along Sembawang Road, near Goodlink Park in my constituency. Parents told me that they saw many students in the games arcades. They worry that their children will be affected. Residents complained about cigarettes butts and littering around these places, and the noise and public nuisance from them.
I brought it up to URA. They said games arcades are under Registry of Societies. There is nothing that they can do. I approached MHA, they said they are monitoring. Until now, residents still have to face with all these nuisance and pressure.
Some of these nightlife spots are sleazy, with scantily-clad women openly soliciting business, and drunk and rowdy customers creating a public nuisance. It can be disturbing and dangerous for residents walking through the area. On a related note, are there guidelines for the attire of employees working in these establishments? I note that there are strict guidelines pertaining to attire at public events, particularly those of performers and event staff.
Should these guidelines not also be extended to the employees who loiter outside their establishments?
6. Madam Speaker, Chinese please. 这次修订法案，主要是管理公共娱乐。不过我想提我国的娱乐场所。这些场所可带来两种问题，第一是酒客闹事打架，对此，我们是否能要求这些场所的保安人员接受额外训练，来制止打架事件？这样能减轻警队的负担，也可以减少打架事件造成的伤害。
7. Madam Speaker, I support the Bill and I believe that the need to protect the patrons are important be it against drug abuse, fire, or unnecessary fights between patrons. Owners of these places must have realised that they want to have a profitable business they must do so with commensurating responsibility for the people whose presence they profit. These outlets are also soft targets for terror groups. I hope MHA would not be overtaxed in its resources to have to watch not only the front and back gates but also the side alleys which hold the PE licences.