Ask any Hong Kong restaurateur or bar owner about liquor licensing and they will likely emit an exasperated groan. We live in a "world city" with a system of alcohol regulation that is out of this world. Notorious for a complicated and overly strict licensing system, the SAR is also famous for lax laws regulating public consumption of alcohol. That lack of logic is cheered by backpackers but hated by the hospitality industry and petitioners for public peace. After establishments are forced to close up and throw people out, many revellers simply relocate to street corners to drink cheap convenience-store beers into the wee hours. In such a cramped town, the public nuisance potential is manifest. But rather than encourage responsible and controlled drinking inside bars and restaurants, the government administers convoluted procedures both to get a liquor licence and to keep it. Up to nine official documents must be filled out during the application process. Applicants must place notices in three newspapers (at their own expense) to seek public objections, then attend an interview with a Liquor Licensing Board official. The application also has to be passed by the police and, in some cases, the Home Affairs Department. In London, licences are generally granted for fixed 10-year periods. In Hong Kong, they are granted for a maximum of one year. A licence will be granted "only when we are satisfied that the premises are suitable for selling liquor having regard to its location", according to the licensing board. But considering you're rarely more than 50 metres from a convenience store in Hong Kong, wouldn't it appear that the entire city is "suitable for selling liquor having regard to its location"?