Golden Mile Complex's rough edge

While most businesses at Golden Mile Complex - known informally as Little Thailand - close by 11pm, the complex remains alive with the sound of muffled disco beats from a handful of clubs there, as well as a few eateries that stay open all night.
While most businesses at Golden Mile Complex - known informally as Little Thailand - close by 11pm, the complex remains alive with the sound of muffled disco beats from a handful of clubs there, as well as a few eateries that stay open all night.ST PHOTO: ZAIHAN MOHAMED YUSOF

Workers at complex have witnessed rowdy behaviour, but are not afraid

When she heard shouts and the banging of shutters, she glanced in the direction of the noise but later continued to serve her patrons.

To Ms Akim, 40, a waitress at Nana Original Thai Food Restaurant, such early-morning disturbances are common occurrences at Golden Mile Complex. "People fight and argue when they have too much to drink," she told The Sunday Times last week. "All these small fights end quickly."

Well, not the one on Oct 11.

The assault left a 25-year-old man with facial injuries after his attacker repeatedly stomped on and kicked him. The 3am incident was widely seen after footage of the attack was posted online. A 22-year-old man was later arrested and charged.

While most businesses at Golden Mile Complex - known informally as Little Thailand - close by 11pm, the place remains alive with the sound of muffled disco beats from a handful of clubs there.

Adding to the mix is loud Thai music from an electronics and mobile-phone stand, along with the aroma of Thai food wafting from a few eateries that stay open all night.

Restaurant manager Elaine Lim, 29, from Diandin Leluk said fights are once-a-month affairs at the complex. She added: "I have been helping at my parents' restaurant since I was in Primary 1 and I have seen all types of fights. From lovers arguing and drunks refusing to pay bills to violent ones."

While violent attacks are rare, two early-morning fights last year remain etched in her mind. In one incident, a man who had been fighting with a woman on the second floor fell and landed on the ground floor, roughly 10m from Diandin Leluk's entrance.

  • Previous cases of violence

  • While the police said they do not keep statistics on fights at Golden Mile Complex, there have been past reports of assault cases there.

    JAN 3, 2017

    A short clip, posted on YouTube on Jan 3, showed two groups of men shouting and pushing a rival group along the front of the complex.

    One of the men was later seen kicking a rival member. The men were also heard shouting vulgarities in the clip, which was viewed more than 46,000 times.


    JULY 2016

    A 19-year-old restaurant helper, who had intervened in a quarrel between a couple outside the complex, ended up kicking and punching a 42-year-old man in the face, breaking his nose and an eye socket.

    The younger man was later jailed for six months for causing grievous hurt.


    OCTOBER 2015

    A part-time security guard pointed a knife at his Thai wife, who was working at a restaurant in the complex.

    Following an argument, the man had threatened to kill her and the couple's three children if she refused to return home with him.

    The man later threw the knife into a sink and tried to flee, but was stopped by a security officer who had called the police.

In another, a young man stole a knife from Diandin Leluk and later used it to stab a man at an open space next to the restaurant.

"There was blood all over the floor. We didn't know our knife had been used (in the attack) until a worker found a bloodied knife slipped between a stack of chairs," she said.

Both the victim and the attacker fled the scene. The knife was later surrendered to the police, along with surveillance footage from the restaurant, said Ms Lim.

Despite having tables and plates broken at Nana by drunken brawlers three years ago, Ms Akim does not feel threatened.

She added: "I don't feel afraid. It's safe here. There are CCTV cameras everywhere and security (guards)."

Money changer Rahamathulla Zeenath from Singa Exchange said: "The complex is no different from any other nightspot in the city. Fights occur there too, especially in nightclubs or discos... the majority of visitors here are not troublemakers."

Aside from fights, Little Thailand had been in the news for other reasons. One syndicate was exposed in 2010 for selling prescription drugs like Romilar and Alprazolam there. A year before that, peeping Toms made holes in some cubicles in the male toilets.

None of this has deterred customers from patronising the shops, which offer religious relics, clothes and tattoo services, among other things.

Not everyone who comes at night is ready for trouble, said Ms Nana, a sales assistant at Siam Boutique, a 24-hour female clothing shop.

Some are tourists who have a quick meal before boarding late-night buses bound for Malaysia.

 
 

But there are also those who come to Little Thailand for supper when some nightclubs in town close just after 3am.

Said Ms Nana, 34: "Our shop remains open because the women look at our new clothes after they have finished their supper. It's good business."

Locals like Mr K. Saravannan said it is the relaxed atmosphere there that draws him and his friends.

Said the 31-year-old accounts executive, who eats there at least once a month: "This place doesn't pretend to be some fancy mall. It may be old but it is familiar and has its own charm, which reminds me of my trips to Bangkok."

At press time, the Golden Mile Complex management office did not reply to media queries.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 29, 2017, with the headline 'Golden Mile's rough edge'. Print Edition | Subscribe