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SINGAPORE — More police resources, including special operations command troops, have been deployed to Orchard Towers, where they maintain a “strong tempo of enforcement operations”, said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin on Monday (5 August).
In response to parliamentary questions by Members of Parliament (MPs) Christopher de Souza and Melvin Yong, Amrin said that the security measures are supplemented with an “increased deployment” of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras to deter streetwalking and other illegal activities.
Last year, 18 anti-vice operations were conducted by the police at Orchard Towers and its vicinity, resulting in 76 vice workers being arrested, Amrin noted. Such operations were conducted on top of their regular checks, he added.
In the same year, seven unlicensed message parlours were detected and have since been shut down. Of these, four were fined, one was issued a stern warning while investigations against two are ongoing.
The number of licensed massage parlours in Orchard Towers has also decreased in the past three years to only three, according to the Sembawang GRC MP.
“The police have actively managed the licences they grant, to take into consideration the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) planning intent, feedback from the community, and the prevailing law and order situation,” he said.
Currently, there are 29 public entertainment establishments at Orchard Towers, with 23 being nightlife establishments.
Similar to licences for massage parlours, police “actively managed” the licences for public entertainment establishments, said Amrin.
Orchard Towers is one of 11 locations where new licences for public entertainment establishments are unlikely to be granted, according to a list published on the police’s website.
The other locations include Boat Quay, Chinatown, Cuppage Plaza, Geylang, Joo Chiat, Blair Plain, Kampong Glam, Little India, Orchard Plaza and Parklane Shopping Mall.
Nee Soon GRC MP Louis Ng later asked if stepping up enforcement would address the root of the problem and if it would instead lead to a future “Orchard Towers part two”.
In response, Amrin acknowledged that it is a given that there has to be an outlet for people to entertain themselves. But it is important for law and order to be maintained, he added.
“If the situation gets out of hand, the police must ensure that whatever entertainment that we enjoy do not cause inconvenience to others and pose law and order situations to the public,” said Amrin.
Orchard Towers recently came into the spotlight, following an ongoing murder case on its premise where six men and one women were initially charged with allegedly murdering 31-year-old Satheesh Noel Gobidass on 2 July.
Three men have had their murder charges later replaced with the charge of consorting with a wanted man.
Last August, a 30-year-old man was arrested for allegedly having sex in public outside Orchard Towers.