Singapore

'All-out approach' needed to stamp out vice in heartlands

MPs worry about vice in residential areas

Sex workers operating out of homes in heartland areas pose a security concern, and residents should keep an eye out for vice activities, said MPs.

Communities need an "all-out approach" towards stamping out vice, said Mr Patrick Tay, a former policeman who sits on the Government Parliamentary Committee for Home Affairs. One way is for neighbours to inform the authorities when they suspect vice activities are going on in the area, he said.

Last week, the police concluded an anti-vice raid in which one man and 96 women were arrested across more than 40 locations, including Yishun, Jurong and Chinatown, for offences in HDB flats, hotels and condominium units. Local press reports said those nabbed were all foreigners.

More should be done to study how best to address vice in the heartland, said Mr Louis Ng, who is on the same committee as Mr Tay.

Mr Ng said sex workers may simply move to other units, as they use the Internet to trawl for customers.

His fear is the sex trade will be driven underground, and "it becomes a cat-and-mouse game between the authorities and the sex workers".

SEXUAL SERVICES

The Straits Times visited two Housing Board units in Ang Mo Kio and Jurong West yesterday where women were selling sexual services as recently as last October. Neighbours said the flats are now vacant.

At the Jurong West Street 61 flat, two dusty letters from the electricity and gas department lay outside the door. At Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8, knocks on the door behind the padlocked gate went unanswered.

On one website, about 280 scantily clad women in provocative poses promised services ranging from massages to sex for between $80 and $280.

Posing as a customer, this reporter contacted 20 women who listed their phone numbers on the site.

Ten replied, of whom six said they could be found in condominiums in areas such as East Coast Road, Tanjong Katong Road and Upper Serangoon Road.

Three were in HDB flats in Bedok South and Yishun, with two naming the same block in Bedok South.

One claimed to work in a massage parlour in Serangoon Garden.

Mr Tay said: "We need to be concerned about the influence that sex workers may have on the neighbourhoods and the young children living in them."

COMMUNITY ISSUES