More than 70 vice workers were arrested last year after anti-vice operations at Orchard Towers and in its vicinity, said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin in Parliament yesterday.
The police have “maintained a strong tempo of enforcement operations” in the area on top of their usual checks, with 18 anti-vice operations carried out last year, he added.
At the same time, they uncovered seven unlicensed massage establishments in the building, all of which have been shut down, he said.
Mr Amrin was responding to Mr Christopher de Souza (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC) and Mr Melvin Yong (Tanjong Pagar GRC), on crime and vice activities at Orchard Towers. Their questions follow an alleged murder there last month.
Seven people were initially charged with the murder of Mr Satheesh Noel Gobidass, 31. 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.
Noting that there were about 30 public entertainment outlets there, Mr Yong 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 23 of the 29 outlets 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 wanted the Home Affairs Ministry to prioritise anti-vice raids to clean up the area as activities there, especially at night, spill 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 simply send it elsewhere. If so, “we’ll be just spending all our resources chasing our tail”.
Mr Amrin said the police have stepped up enforcement and presence on the ground. He assured the House the police will “ensure that whatever entertainment… does not cause inconvenience to others and pose a law and order situation to the public”.