For Singaporeans who think they know Singapore, Shin Min Daily News has got you covered so you know more.
According to an investigation by a reporter from the Chinese daily, there are multiple shops all over town that offer erotic services while posing as massage parlours, nail salons and even Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) outlets.
Many of these shops can be found in shopping malls, such as People's Park Centre, Parklane Shopping Mall, Far East Plaza, and Excelsior Shopping Centre, with between three to 10 of such parlours located in a single mall.
The reporter also spoke to multiple insiders, including a masseuse at one of these shops, who gave further details about the profile of both customers and staff, the manner of business solicitation and how the shops are constantly on the lookout for the authorities.
Here's what the reporter found.
Most customers are supposedly tipsy
According to a masseuse from Harbin, China, whom the reporter described as "plump" with a "nice face", the staff of such shops need to earn as much money as possible as they will be deported once they are caught.
With regard to her background, the masseuse claimed that she had arrived in Singapore with a work permit and had to pay an agency a fee of S$10,000 in advance.
She alleged that while she was frightened, she could only continue with this particular line of work, namely erotic massage.
In addition, most of the customers are purportedly tipsy and business has not been bad, despite the onset of the pandemic, she was further quoted as saying.
The reporter also quoted a few more unnamed insiders who claimed that some of the staff who are engaged in such services have either already obtained permanent resident (PR) status, or married a local Singaporean, and are now seeking to make a living after securing their right to live here.
Supposedly possible to earn more than S$10,000 in a month
Another insider said a woman in this line of work purportedly only needs to serve two customers per night in order to earn hundreds of dollars.
It is also supposedly possible to earn more than S$10,000 in a month if the customers are generous.
As for rates, this is allegedly decided by age, with girls who are young and considered beautiful commonly charging S$500 and above, while the price falls to between S$100 and S$150 for those aged 35 and older.
How do the staff solicit for business?
Here, the reporter described a variety of methods relayed to him.
These apparently include:
- Teasing patrons by stripping after initially providing 10 minutes of massage, and proposing the price of the "special service" to the guest if they are unable to resist
- In the case of bolder staff, immediately telling a patron once they enter the shop, that only "special services" are provided
- Telling a guest directly "not to waste my time", if they only consent to a massage.
As for solicitations at specific locations, the reporter highlighted the following locations:
- Excelsior Shopping Centre, where the staff of such shops do not appear publicly to invite customers but serve customers who are either regular patrons, or were introduced by others, according to the mall's other merchants.
- The merchants also claimed that the staff now wear uniforms to reduce the risk of being targeted by the police.
- People's Park Centre where the masseurs mainly do business with "regular" patrons, and now stand inside the shop, beckoning only when they see a male customer passing by.
- The reporter further noted that the number of such shops here has also been reduced to five, down from 20 a few years ago, when staff stood outside the store and beckoned to customers, following an increase in police raids and the establishment of multiple surveillance cameras.
Presence of such shops doesn't affect actual massage parlours
The reporter also pointed out that such shops are largely located on the higher floors of the malls, and in more remote corners.
According to the operator of an actual massage parlour at Far East Plaza, however, the presence of these shops do not affect their business as the customers are largely from different groups.
He was quoted as saying: "Most of us here are proper massage parlours, and many customers who want a massage prefer this location. As for those who have other objectives, they will also go somewhere else."
Another operator at People's Park Centre claimed that he has encountered customers who arrive at his shop first for a massage, then head upstairs afterwards "seeking fun".
Keeping an eye out for the authorities
As for the authorities, the Chinese masseuse alleged that every month, some of the staff will pay a sum of money to someone who will keep an eye out and sound an alert if anything happens.
The staff will also inform one another in the spirit of watching one another's backs.
In the case of one such shop which did not want to be named, it said that its staff have since installed CCTVs, which switch between different angles and will slip away the moment they observe something is wrong.
And it is not as if others were not caught before.
In June 2020, a 55-year-old beauty salon owner, Jin Yin, was fined S$22,000 for breaching Circuit Breaker measures by providing massage and sexual services during the Covid-19 pandemic at a beauty salon located at Block 34 Upper Cross Street, The Straits Times reported.
And in July 2021, an 81-year-old man, Too Seng San, was fined S$18,000 for running a massage parlour without a license, under Tai Kang Yang Seng TCM Therapy, and failing to stop his employee from providing sexual services, at Block 201 on Hougang Street 21.
In September 2021, a 48-year-old man, Tan Tze Tong, was jailed for two weeks for owning a massage establishment without a license, which also offered sexual services to customers, Today reported.
A 46-year-old woman, Julie Ma, who helped Tan to run the outlet was also fined S$10,000.
Known as 5 Star Beauty Centre, the outlet was located at 98A Tanjong Pagar Road.
Tan had moved the outlet there in May 2019, following a police raid at the original premises along Serangoon Garden Way.
Under the Women's Charter, anyone suspected of providing erotic services in a massage parlour faces a jail term of up to seven years and a fine of up to S$100,000 if convicted.
In the case of a landlord or agent knowingly renting out real estate to others for prostitution, they can be fined up to S$100,000 under the Women's Charter, jailed for up to five years, or be subjected to both.
Repeat offenders can be fined up to S$150,000, jailed for up to seven years, or be subjected to both.
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Top collage left screenshot via Google streetview, right image by Andrew Koay