'Our intention was never to offend': Singapore's Escobar restaurant on controversy over name

'Our intention was never to offend': Singapore's Escobar restaurant on controversy over name

Channel NewsAsia·2018-02-09 19:10

Colombia said it cannot tolerate any tributes to cocaine cartel leader Escobar. (Photo: AFP/Elizabeth LAW)

SINGAPORE: Mr Stan Sri Ganesh said he never intended to offend anyone when he decided to name his new restaurant Escobar and use the Colombian drug lord's image in its logo. 

"Our intention was never to offend a particular individual or a community," Mr Ganesh told Reuters. "We also never intended to condone the actions of Pablo Escobar."

Mr Ganesh said the name and image of Pablo Escobar, who was killed in a police operation in 1993, had seemed perfect for the bar he opened in January. That opinion changed after a visit on Wednesday by the police and Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) agents.

Mr Ganesh also received a complaint from the Colombian embassy, as well as anonymous calls with death threats. 

Following Colombia's protest, CNB said it would be keeping a "very close watch" on the eatery and told the owner to "uphold a strict anti-drug policy".

"The glamourisation of a drug kingpin and associated drug use is irresponsible and insensitive," it added.   

Mr Ganesh said he wasn't happy to be changing the bar's logo with the picture of Escobar, which had cost him US$20,000 in additional expenses.

Some curious patrons thought nothing of the association with the infamous drug dealer.

"I mean if the owner of Escobar actually wanted to open a 'drug place', it would not be right smack in the middle of town," customer Katie Kang said.

Mr Ganesh said he was baffled by the reaction by the Colombian embassy, which had sent a three-page letter to Singapore's foreign ministry expressing its "serious concern" that the bar "pays tribute to the worst criminal in the history of Colombia".

Mr Ganesh said he had no plans to change the name of the pub.

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