10 massage parlour operators taken to court for various offences

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A massage business operator, who claimed he was unsure of the licensing rules for providing such services, was told by a judge "to be very careful" as the penalties include jail time.

Chew Kim Seng, 56, was among 10 operators of massage establishment taken to court yesterday for various offences.

The six men and four women, aged between 37 and 71, were nabbed by the police between March and July this year.

Chew, who was charged for not having a valid licence, claimed it was his first time running such an establishment.

District Judge Adam Nakhoda, in cautioning him, said 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 now, first-time offenders face a jail term of up to two years, and a maximum fine of $10,000. Repeat offenders can be jailed for up to five years and fined up to $20,000.

Chew, who pleaded guilty, was fined $3,000.

Six of the other operators faced the same charge.

The rest were charged with employing workers without the approval of licensing officers, for not registering patrons' details properly and failing to ensure workers wore the approved uniforms.

Repeat offender Zhang Chunhua, 45, received the highest fine of $8,000 for providing massage services without a licence in April this year. She was convicted in November last year for a similar offence.

Tan Kim Hock, 60, a first-time offender, was fined $7,000 for the same offence. His establishment also offered sexual services.

Deng Yiqing, 50, also a first-timer, pleaded guilty to operating it without a valid licence and was fined $3,000. - CARA WONG