Many people in Singapore flock to Johor Bahru to get a massage amongst other things.
Unfortunately, one Singaporean's massage session ended unexpectedly after she discovered a CCTV camera in the corner of her booth at a massage parlour at the popular KSL City Mall.
Blinking red lights
Lina (not her real name) told Mothership that she, her husband and her father-in-law had all booked a foot and oil body massage at the massage parlour on Jun. 16, 2022.
The newly opened massage parlour was located on the lower ground floor of KSL City Mall, which is frequented by Singaporeans.
It was 6:30pm and the trio had just completed their hour-long foot massage.
They were ushered into their respective private rooms, and were told to remove their clothes as massage oil will be used for the latter half of their session.
Lina, who had stripped down to her underwear, was hanging up her clothes when she noticed a set of blinking red lights.
Concealed by a curtain
Much to her horror, those lights were from a nondescript closed circuit television (CCTV) camera.
Lina said the camera was easy to miss because it was concealed by a curtain and located in a corner high up on the ceiling.
"The CCTV was hung next to the curtain hence making it less visible. Customers entering the room will not be able to see the CCTV unless he/ she flips the curtain," she said.
Aghast, Lina frantically covered herself up with the nearest available item and called for her husband, who dashed into the room.
Management team allegedly changed tunes
Upon learning about the CCTV camera, Lina's husband confronted the parlour's management team, but they denied having any knowledge about the CCTV camera in the room.
The team later changed tunes and claimed that the CCTV was not working, according to Lina.
"My husband and I were confused. First, they claimed they are not aware of the presence of the CCTV. Second, they claimed, the CCTV was not functioning," she said.
"How do they know the CCTV is not working if they are not aware there is a CCTV in the first place? If the CCTV is not functioning, why is there flashing red light?"
Lina's husband remembered seeing a monitor playing CCTV footage at the parlour's payment counter and requested to see the monitor, but the management team refused.
Camera was recording live
Sensing that something was amiss, he went to the counter and saw that the CCTV camera in Lina's room was recording, unlike the management team's claims.
Lina said: "CCTV footage shows all movements in the massage room."
Left with no other choice, the management team decided to come clean, begging Lina and her husband to not file a police report and promising them that they would delete the footage so that it will not be circulated.
Lina warned them against doing so as it would tamper with the evidence.
The couple then called the police in Johor Bahru, who went down to the massage parlour, inspected the premises and spoke with the management team.
The couple then lodged a report at the Larkin Police Station.
Hard disk allegedly scrubbed clean
At the station, Lina was told by the police that they have received the hard disk from the massage parlour's manager, who claimed it had been scrubbed clean.
Considering that the footage has been deleted, the investigation officer asked Lina if she would still like to pursue the matter.
Lina, who was worried that the hard disk was a decoy and that more copies of the CCTV recording could be floating around, told the investigating officer that she wanted this case to be investigated.
She also lodged a police report almost immediately after she arrived back in Singapore on Jan. 17 morning.
Left traumatised and with no closure
After the incident, Lina said she made repeated attempts to reach the investigation officer at Larkin Police Station to follow up, and even sought legal advice, but to no avail.
Lina would call Larkin Police Station, only for the line to strangely cut off every time she requested to speak with the investigating officer.
She said: "I do not know if the Larkin Police Station made any further investigation on this case. I've been trying to contact the IO to [find out] the status of their investigation but I can't get through to her. I feel helpless."
Six months have elapsed since the incident in June 2022, but Lina has not been provided with any closure to the incident that has left her traumatised.
While she is worried of the legal repercussions that may arise through sharing her experience, she hopes that it will serve as both a warning to other travellers and a reminder for them to be more vigilant when getting a massage in Johor Bahru.
"I’m not sure how many customers have been recorded secretly before me. I hope Singaporeans will be more careful when going for massage in JB."
Separately, the parlour's manager spoke to Chinese media Shin Min Daily News on Jan. 19, saying he was equally as surprised as Lina to realise that there were CCTV cameras on the premises back then.
The manager claimed that his team was also not very familiar with the parlour during the incident as it took place less than a month after the shop was opened on Jun. 1, 2022.
He said he had explained this to Lina and apologised to her, but was met with rejection.
After the incident, the manager said he found out that the CCTV system was left behind by the previous owner of the property, adding that a hidden camera was only found in Lina's room out of the 10 rooms at the massage parlour.
However, the massage parlour has replaced all of the CCTV cameras since the incident.
He did not state what the CCTV cameras were replaced with.
The manager told Shin Min that he has similarly filed a police report on the matter and the hard disk remains in the police's possession.
He claimed that no one has seen the footage within the hard disk.
All images courtesy of Lina