Parliament: 76 vice workers arrested last year at and around Orchard Towers, says Amrin Amin

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin said that the police are unlikely to grant new public entertainment licences for Orchard Towers. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - More than 70 vice workers were arrested last year after anti-vice operations at Orchard Towers and its vicinity, said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin in Parliament on Monday (Aug 5).

The police, on top of their usual checks, have "maintained a strong tempo of enforcement operations" in the area, with 18 anti-vice operations carried out last year, he added.

At the same time, they uncovered seven unlicensed massage establishments at the building, all of which had been shut down, he said.

Mr Amrin was responding to Mr Melvin Yong (Tanjong Pagar GRC) and Mr Christopher de Souza (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC), on the crime and vice activities at Orchard Towers.

Their questions come in the wake of an alleged murder there last month.

Seven people were initially charged with the murder of Mr Satheesh Noel Gobidass, 31, on July 2. Three of them were later given a discharge amounting to an acquittal, and had their charges reclassified to consorting with a person carrying an offensive weapon in a public place.

Mr Yong, noting there are about 30 public entertainment outlets there, suggested imposing a cap on the number of such outlets, and not renewing the licences of those with poor public order records.

Mr Amrin said that of the 29 such outlets, 23 were nightlife establishments.

He also said that before granting public entertainment licences, the authorities take into account the Urban Redevelopment Authority's planning intentions, community feedback and the prevailing law and order situation.

"Given these considerations, the police are unlikely to grant new public entertainment licences for Orchard Towers," he said.

Mr de Souza wants the ministry to prioritise anti-vice raids to clean up the area, as activities there, especially at night, spills out "very publicly on the pavements of Orchard Road".

The investigations into the alleged murder "bring to bear the urgency of the task", he added.

Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC) asked whether the operations will remove the root of the problem or send it elsewhere. If so, "we'll be just spending all our resources chasing our tail".

Replying, Mr Amrin said that the police have stepped up their enforcement action and presence on the ground.

He assured the House that the police will "ensure that whatever entertainment that we enjoy do not cause inconvenience to others and pose a law and order situation to the public".

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