Since last year December, Escobar Singapore has been announcing their imminent arrival. After almost two months of teasing fans, the bar finally announced its opening, only to receive negative media attention.
For those who do not know, Escobar Singapore is named after Pablo Escobar. Before we dive into what caused the controversies, lets first understand who is Pablo Escobar.
He was a Colombian drug lord and narcoterrorist. He was so prominent in the cocaine industry that he was given the nickname “The King of Cocaine”. His dealings with the drug made him so rich that he was the wealthiest criminal in history. At his prime, he was one of the richest men in the world. Once, while on the run, he burned more than £1 million worth of cash to keep his daughter warm.
He caused the death of thousands of Colombians with more than 620 terrorist attacks.
Colombia is not happy that a Singaporean bar is paying tribute to the “worst criminal in the history of Colombia”. The Colombian embassy has sent a three-page letter to Singapore’s foreign ministry to express its concern. For Singaporeans not understanding why is this such a big issue, just refer back to the controversy caused in Singapore when Indonesia named two navy ships after two terrorists who carried out the MacDonald House Bombing.
Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) has also stepped in. They are worried about the bar glamorising drugs in a country with a zero drug tolerance stance. They have issued a statement that they will keep a close watch on the activities in the bar.
So What’s Next for the Bar?
The owner of the bar, Stan Sri Ganesh, 35, has apologised for any offence caused by the use of the drug lord’s image. He explained that he chose the name due to the pun “bar” and never intended to cause any controversy. He may also have been wanting to ride on the hype of the Netflix series: Narcos
He has agreed to change the bar’s logo and theme. It will cost Mr Ganesh an estimated $10,000 and a month to implement changes to all paraphernalia with Pablo’s image and the mural of him.
However, he has stated that he will keep the name since Escobar is a common surname in Colombia. I guess it may just be like a Bar in Colombia called Lim or Tan.