Eight arrested in raids targeting illegal public entertainment activities

Above: A police officer counting cans of beer yesterday in a unit suspected of housing an unlicensed public entertainment outlet. Left: People being investigated during a raid. Besides the eight arrested, 34 men and 11 women will be probed for suspec
People being investigated during a raid. Besides the eight arrested, 34 men and 11 women will be probed for suspected flouting of rules under the Public Entertainments Act and Liquor Control Act, as well as Covid-19 rules. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Above: A police officer counting cans of beer yesterday in a unit suspected of housing an unlicensed public entertainment outlet. Left: People being investigated during a raid. Besides the eight arrested, 34 men and 11 women will be probed for suspec
A police officer counting cans of beer yesterday in a unit suspected of housing an unlicensed public entertainment outlet. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

The lyrics to Mandopop music were still being screened on the muted TV, and half empty beer cans and Martell bottles sat on the table, but the lights had been turned on, the doors had been broken down, and the party was over.

The police forced their way in during a raid on three shophouse units in Kitchener Road and Verdun Road between Friday night and the early hours of yesterday. The units allegedly housed karaoke lounges operating without a licence.

Six men and a woman, aged between 23 and 38, were arrested for offences under the Liquor Control Act and Employment of Foreign Manpower Act. Another man, 38, who had an outstanding warrant of arrest, was also nabbed.

The Sunday Times tagged along with the police on their raids, and saw KTV-goers, detained in the rooms by officers in plain clothes, having their statements taken.

The rooms within the units, which smelled of alcohol and cigarette smoke, had walls painted black, large TVs, karaoke machines, microphones, colourful LED lights and sofas. Some even had a disco ball and strobe lights.

All the units had a kitchen or bar area where crates of beer and dozens of bottles of liquor were found and seized.

In addition to those arrested, 34 men and 11 women, aged between 24 and 66, will be investigated for suspected flouting of rules and regulations under the Public Entertainments Act and Liquor Control Act, as well as Covid-19 rules that do not allow gathering in groups of more than eight, said the police.

Speaking to the media at the scene, the Commander of the Central Police Division, Assistant Commissioner of Police Gregory Tan Siew Hin, said the operation was part of police efforts to clamp down on illegal public entertainment activities.

"The police are aware that unlicensed public entertainment outlets have been operating illegally despite the Covid-19 restrictions... The culprits will be dealt with sternly in accordance with the law," he said.

On March 26, the police raided another shophouse in Joo Chiat Road, and found 12 people allegedly consuming alcohol, taking part in karaoke and socialising. The unit had neither a public entertainment licence nor a liquor licence.

The offences of providing public entertainment or supplying liquor without a valid licence each carries a fine of up to $20,000.

Those convicted of employing a foreigner without a valid work pass can be fined between $5,000 and $30,000 and/or jailed for up to 12 months. Foreigners who are employed without a valid work pass can be jailed for up to two years and/or fined up to $20,000.

For flouting Covid-19 safe distancing measures, offenders may be jailed for up to six months and/or fined up to $10,000.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 04, 2021, with the headline 'Eight arrested in raids targeting illegal public entertainment activities'. Subscribe