Rowdy crowd at Tekka hawker centre on Sundays
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.
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.
"You notice that 90 per cent of the tables here have alcoholic drinks?" Mr Lee said, eyeing the tables around him.
Almost every table at the packed hawker centre had cans of Knock Out, Kingfisher and Haywards 5000.
Some patrons sipped from the cans with straws, while others took generous swigs in between conversations.
At 6.30pm, some were already slowly losing their footing and holding on to each other for support as beer spilled out from the cans in their hands.
Drinks vendor Maureen Ho, 42, said that arguments are common as the night progresses, but fights involving bottles are "very occasional".
Stuck at the front of the stall is a sign which says "no bottled beer". Other drink stalls at the hawker centre have similar signs. Some stall owners have even attached a policeman's name card to the sign.
Arguments naturally happen when the foreign workers have too much to drink, but Ms Ho makes it a point to stop them before things escalate.
"I ask them what is the point of fighting when they are here to work. Sometimes, I even threaten to take pictures of them fighting and show the police," said the petite woman.
Construction worker Gopu Rajendran, 26, said he goes to Tekka Centre twice a month to meet his friends for some food and beer.
They usually stay till 10pm, before they return to their dormitory at Bukit Batok.
While he admitted that people there can get a little "emotional" after a few drinks, he said that using beer bottles as weapons is rare.
Now that the police have made a request that stall owners not to sell bottled beer, Mr Gopu said he and his friends have to shell out $3 more in total to drink their fill.
"No choice, there is nowhere else (to drink). What to do?" he said.
"You really shouldn't be here. What are you doing here alone?"
- Mr Mike Lee, 42, a regular at Tekka Centre, when he met TNP reporter Foo Jie Ying
Tekka exempted from Public Order Act
PRECAUTION: Police have suggested that drinks vendors at Tekka Centre's hawker centre sell beer only in cans. TNP PHOTO: GAVIN FOO
To reduce the risk of glass bottles being used as weapons in fights, the police have suggested that stall owners at the Tekka hawker centre consider selling only canned beer.
"All of the stall owners police spoke to had said they will consider doing so for safety reasons," said a police spokesman.
At Little India, Tekka Centre is one of the remaining few places where patrons can buy and drink alcohol beyond 8pm because it holds a beer house licence.
Establishments which hold public house and beer house licences are exempted from the Public Order (Additional Temporary Measures) Act, which was enforced in the area in April.
Under the Act, shops licensed to sell alcohol can only do so until 8pm on weekends, public holidays and eve of public holidays.
Alcohol also cannot be consumed in public places during weekends, from 6am on Saturday to 6am on Monday.
The prohibition also applies from 6am on the day before public holidays to 6am on the day after the holiday.
In a previous interview with The Straits Times, Moulmein-Kallang MP Denise Phua said there has been an "overwhelming request by residents to ensure that restrictions... remain, especially in the public housing areas".
Calling these residents' appeals fair, Ms Phua said they are just asking for a "safe, clean and alcohol-free designated communal living space".