SINGAPORE - A massage establishment operator who claimed he was not sure of the licensing rules was reminded by the judge that he had to be careful, as penalties now include jail time.
Chew Kim Seng, 56, was among 10 massage establishment operators hauled to court on Wednesday (Oct 10) over various offences.
Aged between 37 and 71 years old, the 10 comprised six men and four women. They were nabbed by the police between March and July this year during enforcement checks.
In court, Chew, who was charged with operating his massage establishment without a valid licence, claimed it was his first time operating such a business. The authorities found Chew's parlour was not linked to vice-related activities.
District Judge Adam Nakhoda reminded him "to be very careful", as the "offences are now taken very seriously, with the amendment of the Massage Establishments Act".
Before the revision on March 1 this year, the penalty for operating an unlicensed massage establishment was a maximum fine of $1,000, with no jail term.
But first-time offenders now face a jail term of up to two years, and a fine of up to $10,000. Repeat offenders can be jailed for five years, with a fine of up to $20,000.
After pleading guilty, Chew was slapped with a $3,000 fine.
Seven of the operators in court had faced the same charge.
The rest were either charged with employing workers without the approval of the licensing officers, or for not properly registering patrons' details.
Repeat offender Zhang Chunhua, 45, was hit with the highest fine of $8,000, for providing massage services without a licence in April this year. She was convicted over a similar offence in November 2017.
Tan Kim Hock, 60, received the second-highest fine of $7,000 for the same offence. The authorities said sexual services were also offered at Tan's establishment.
Like Chew, Deng Yiqing, 50, was also a first-time offender. His establishment was not linked to vice-related activities as well, and after pleading guilty to operating it without a valid licence, he was fined $3,000.