Salon owner who provided massage, sexual service during circuit breaker fined $22,000

Wan Ting Koh
·Senior Reporter
·6-min read
Sports massage. Physical therapist massaging shoulder region
Photo from Getty Images

SINGAPORE — A woman who operated a massage establishment and provided masturbation services to a male customer during the circuit breaker period was fined a total of $22,000 on Wednesday (10 June).

Jin Yin, 55, was caught while providing the service to the male customer at In-Style Beauty Salon three days after the circuit breaker came into effect on 7 April.

She pleaded guilty to one count each of operating a massage establishment without a license and for failing to ensure that her non-residential premise was closed to entry by any individual during the circuit breaker period - when all non-essential businesses were required to close. Another similar offence under the Massage Establishments Act was taken into consideration for sentencing.

The male customer, 67, came across an advertisement on online platform Locanto, which advertised massage and masturbation services. He then called the salon on the morning of 10 April and made an appointment with Jin that afternoon for a two-hour package priced at $150 for massage and masturbation services.

Jin had been informed on 9 April by a WhatsApp text that her salon could not operate during the circuit breaker as it was not an essential service. However, she told the male customer that she was still open for business and even confirmed that she was “open all the way”, as per normal.

“When the (male customer) asked if it was safe to go down to the salon, fearing police checks, (Jin) sent him a text message to assure him saying that she was “working close door”,” said Deputy Public Prosecutor Jane Lim.

The customer arrived at the salon at about 1pm and paid $150 for his service. He was brought to the back of the shop where he removed his clothes and lay down on a massage bed naked. Jin then applied baby oil on him and proceeded with the service without wearing gloves.

Meanwhile, the police received two reports from a resident in the vicinity on 10 April complaining that Jin’s outlet was still in operation.

Acting on the reports, police officers were dispatched to the salon, located at Block 34 Upper Cross Street, which also has residences in the upper floors of the block. Officers arrived at the outlet at about 1.35pm and observed a “closed” sign on the door, with the outlet appearing to be empty of movement or persons. The police officers then left the area.

Officers returned to the area at 2.30pm the same day and observed that though the outlet still appeared to be closed, cool air – from the air-conditioner – was coming out of the unit. They knocked on the door but only got a response 10 minutes later, when Jin opened the door.

Officers entered and saw the male customer sitting on a massage bed. Both he and Jin were not wearing masks. The customer’s two-hour package was not yet completed when the officers arrived.

Investigations revealed that Jin had also not taken any precautions, such as taking the customer’s temperature when he first arrived, obtain his details for contact tracing or ask for his travel history. The customer had in fact used a fake name that day.

Not the first time accused is before the courts: Prosecution

Jin had previously been convicted, in 2014 and 2016, for operating the same salon without a license, she was fined $1,800 and $1,000 respectively on each occasion.

Asking for a fine for Jin, the prosecution said that there was physical contact between Jin and her customer, which increased the risk of infection. However, the prosecution noted that since only one person entered the outlet and it wasn’t for a long duration, a jail term was not warranted.

Nevertheless, Jin’s offence was premeditated and she did take steps to conceal her business, said DPP Lim.

Jin, who was unrepresented, told the court through a Mandarin interpreter tearfully, “It is not my wish to commit such an offence but I was forced by circumstances. My mother back in hometown was ill, and because of cancer, died in September last year.”

She said she would not be able to afford the fine as she was still supporting her schooling daughter in China.

She added that she was not providing masturbation services initially, but was “maintaining the health of kidney”. The masturbation service came about as the customer requested for a frontal massage, she claimed. “I often returned to China to look after my mother who was unwell. I engaged two other ladies and they never performed such an act,” she added.

Judge gave due weight to circumstances

In mitigation, Jin asked for a lower fine as business was bad and she no longer engaged the other two women.

“It’s just myself to earn money to support my daughter. I am running the business on my own to support a living for my child... I would not go into this trade to do this if I were not in heavy debt. I beg you, just look at me now,” she pleaded with District Judge Bala Reddy.

In sentencing Jin, DJ Reddy noted Jin had not taken precautions and that Jin had previous convictions. He agreed with the prosecution that a jail term was not warranted but that the sentence ought to reflect the severity of the potential harm that may have been caused should the business not have been discovered.

Being the owner of the business, Jin could “potentially bring human traffic to the salon” especially with the advertising she did.

“I have given due weight to her mitigation, and her early plea of guilt. Having considered that, I’m of the view that a fine of $15,000, in default six weeks of jail, for the Massage Establishments Act charges would be amply justified given multiple breaches for similar offences,” said the judge, who also imposed a $7,000 fine for the circuit breaker breach.

For carrying on a massage establishment without a license, Jin could have been jailed up to five years and/or fined up to $20,000, as a repeat offender.

For failing to ensure that her non-residential premise was closed to entry by any individual, she could have been jailed up to six months and/or fined up to $10,000.

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