Waiver for TCM practitioners offering massage services

The change is part of an ongoing review aimed at reducing compliance costs for businesses.
The change is part of an ongoing review aimed at reducing compliance costs for businesses.PHOTO: ST FILE

Registered traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) physicians will no longer have to get a CaseTrust mark in order to run a massage establishment from Jan 1 next year, which can help them save at least $2,400 every two years.

This is provided that the physicians are working at their primary place of practice registered with the TCM Practitioners' Board, and if he or she is also the massage establishment licensee.

The change is part of an ongoing review aimed at reducing compliance costs for businesses.

Speaking on the sidelines of an industry dialogue yesterday, Mr Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, said the move comes after feedback from TCM practitioners who run massage establishments.

"There are a small number of TCM outlets which may use tuina massage as a front but are actually providing illegal sexual services," said Mr Chee, who is also Senior Minister of State for Education.

"This (change) will help to strike a better balance between the need to maintain standards and to keep costs affordable for our businesses so that they can devote more resources to looking after patients and training their staff," he said.

The authorities took into account how TCM physicians are already regulated by the TCM Practitioners' Board, which oversees the professional ethics and conduct of these practitioners.

 
 

Currently, TCM practitioners who run massage establishments or spas in premises such as Housing Board shophouses, shopping centres or hotels - which are classified as Category I spas - require CaseTrust accreditation.

Mr Liew Siaw Foo, deputy president of the Singapore Chinese Physicians' Association, said the change will help TCM practitioners save on operating costs when they run massage parlours. "Hopefully, the savings can be passed down to the patients, but it is up to business owners to decide what they want to do with the savings," said Mr Liew, who is also deputy chairman of the Singapore College of TCM.

To safeguard the industry against rogue operators, the police will continue to take strict action against errant massage establishments, said a Home Affairs Ministry spokesman.

Unlicensed massage establishment operators face a fine of up to $20,000, or a jail term of up to five years, or both.

Licensed massage establishment operators who commit regulatory breaches face a fine of up to $10,000 or a jail term of up to two years, or both.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 19, 2018, with the headline 'Waiver for TCM practitioners offering massage services'. Print Edition | Subscribe