Shanmugam addresses criticism of police raid tactics on illegal brothels

File photo of Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam speaking at a forum on Sept 8, 2017. PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

SINGAPORE - Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam expressed support for the police in their recent raids on illegal brothels in a Facebook post on Saturday (Dec 9).

He was responding to some comments online, which suggested that it was wrong for the police to "break down doors, wear masks and so on".

Speed and surprise are key elements during raids, and the police "cannot be expected to knock on the door, and wait for a response", Mr Shanmugam said.

"What do we expect - the gangsters (who might be present) will open the door, and politely admit to their actions? And even if gangsters are not present, we expect the women involved to be co-operative?" he added.

"And once people know that police will always knock on the door, and wait, then what does one expect in the future?"

He explained that the police wear masks during such operations to hide their identities, as the syndicates behind these illegal brothels would retaliate, if they can.

Mr Shanmugam added that he had been quite puzzled by the criticism directed at the police, and "the deeply flawed, misplaced sympathies" for those in the vice trade.

He said: "The police are acting to protect everyone from illegal vice. We criticise them and instead focus our sympathies on the women involved in the vice trade?"

There has to be some sympathy for some of the women who are victims of the syndicate, and help has to be given, wherever possible, he said.

"But that should not colour our views on what the police need to do," he added.

Twenty-two people were arrested on Friday after the police conducted multiple raids on illegal brothels near Rowell Road.

The police said in a statement on Saturday that "officers had to use necessary force to gain access into units that were locked".

The suspects, who are work pass holders, have allegedly made use of their stay in Singapore to commit vice-related offences, the police added.

Investigations are ongoing.

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