Pub owner jailed over use of blue light to warn performers of police presence

SINGAPORE - A blue light was installed in a Circular Road pub to warn performers engaging in illicit activity of the presence of police nearby.

When it was switched on, performers had to stop all activities and move away from their customers towards a table near the entrance.

The pub's owner, Lee Seet Khiang, 50, who had instructed his staff on the use of the light, was sentenced to six weeks' jail on Monday (Aug 22) after pleading guilty to two charges of obstruction of justice.

Another similar charge was taken into consideration during the Malaysian's sentencing.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tin Shu Min said in court documents that Lee, a Singaporean permanent resident, took over as the registered owner and licensee of Club Para Para in September 2019.

Lee was in charge of hiring and managing the performers at Club Para Para and another pub, Beer Inn, at nearby Lorong Telok, where he had been employed since 2012 or 2013.

On March 22, 2020, a former performer at another Circular Road pub called T.G.I.F. e-mailed the Ministry of Manpower to allege that its performers were providing sexual services to encourage customers to spend more on drinks.

Investigations into T.G.I.F. revealed that Beer Inn and Club Para Para were affiliated to it, and performers were cross-deployed across the three pubs.

Performers at Beer Inn and Club Para Para sat with or mingled with customers, with at least four at each pub providing sexual services to customers in the premises, said DPP Tin.

"The performers were motivated to do so as they would earn a commission from the drinks purchased by customers," said the DPP, adding that they needed to earn extra commission to pay off their debts, which were incurred when they came to Singapore to work.

She also said that Lee was aware that performers in Club Para Para were sitting with or mingling with the customers, which was a breach of its public entertainment licence conditions.

In April 2019, Lee told Noraida Ghani, who had started working there as a manager, about the blue light and its purpose. She then briefed performers on what they should do when they see the blue light.

"These were acts she had done on the (Lee's) instigation," said DPP Tin.

Between April 2019 and March 2020, Noraida briefed at least seven performers about the blue light, and recalled seeing the light switched on about seven to eight times.

Lee also briefed Zainabbun Abdul Jalil when she started working in the pub in mid-2019. She was stationed outside to welcome customers and also to switch on the blue light if she saw the police nearby.

Between mid-2019 and March 2020, Zainabbun switched on the blue light using a remote control about four to five times a week.

For their role in the offences, Noraida received a 12-month conditional warning while Zainabbun received a stern warning.

For each charge, Lee could have been jailed for up to seven years, fined or both.

Last Wednesday (Aug 17), a bouncer pleaded guilty to six charges of obstructing the course of justice after he tipped off other outlets when the police raided nightspots where he worked or when he saw police vehicles in the area.

The 26-year-old man, who also faced a charge each of affray and causing hurt by a rash act, was sentenced to 17 weeks' jail and fined $3,000.

Eight others who were part of one of the WhatsApp chat groups that he sent tip-offs to were sentenced last Friday.

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