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Foo Jie Ying
Wednesday, Oct 8, 2014

Singapore

Rowdy patrons common as alcohol flows at Tekka hawker centre during weekends

The New Paper | Foo Jie Ying | Wednesday, Oct 8, 2014

Discarded empty beer cans at the hawker centre.

He has lived in the Housing Board flat above Tekka Centre for more than 20 years.

Yet the resident, who wanted to be known only as Mr Lim, still avoids the hawker centre downstairs like the plague on Sundays.

"I'm too scared to go down. I'm here today only to buy food quickly, then go home," said the 52-year-old.

Mr Lim, who is unemployed, was referring to the raucous crowd, who are mostly foreign workers, that forms at the hawker centre at Tekka Centre on weekends.

After all, with its stalls holding beer house licences, it is one of the few places one can enjoy a can of beer after 8pm.

And every seat there was taken when The New Paper visited it yesterday.

Mr Lim said: "Take a look around. No one who lives here wants to come down. Most of the people here are foreign workers."

Mr Lim added that he has not seen much of an improvement even after the police advised stall owners to stop selling bottled beers.

He added that from the window of his flat, he once saw a group of 40 foreign workers chasing another man.

"There are many of such cases in this area, but they all go unreported."

As the night falls, patrons can become unrestrained and fights break out, Mr Lim added.

Madam Sahilah Bee Abdul Hamid, 42, who runs a Muslim food stall with her husband, told The New Paper that they had to close their stall an hour earlier due to fights at the hawker centre.

QUARREL

She said: "It was really bad last weekend. There were two groups of people quarrelling, one at the front of the stall and one at the back. There was no violence initially, just loud verbal exchange.

"When we were preparing the food, we heard glass bottles breaking. Violence is quite common around here," said Madam Sahilah, who opened her stall at Tekka Centre two months ago.

Her husband, who was busy grilling satay, added: "Bottle or can, it is still alcohol right? The situation will stay the same."

When TNP called Madam Sahilah back at 9pm, she said a fight almost broke out, but was stopped after intervention by auxiliary police officers.

There is heightened police presence recently, so she feels safer, she said.

When TNP returned to the hawker centre at 10pm, there were no fights, but there was a marked increase in the number of patrons, many of whom were drunk.

Mr Mike Lee, 42, a regular at Tekka Centre, is no stranger to the sound of glass bottles breaking too.

The IT manager goes there every Sunday to visit his parents, who live in a flat above the hawker centre.

When he saw this reporter, the first thing he said, with his eyes widened, was: "You really shouldn't be here. What are you doing here alone?"

Mr Lee, who was waiting for his takeaway food outside a fried Hokkien mee stall, said that quarrels break out easily after night falls, when the patrons get tipsy and intoxicated.

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