SINGAPORE: Police have “maintained a strong tempo” of enforcement operations at Orchard Towers, with 18 anti-vice operations conducted there resulting in the arrest of 76 vice workers last year, said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin on Monday (Aug 5).
Additionally, the number of licensed massage parlours at Orchard Towers has decreased over the past three years, Mr Amrin said in response to parliamentary questions posed by Members of Parliament (MPs) Melvin Yong and Christopher de Souza.
These questions come amid an ongoing murder case at Orchard Towers, where 31-year-old Satheesh Noel Gobidass was killed in a brawl on Jul 2. Seven people have been charged in connection with the case.
Seven illegal massage parlours were detected in 2018 and these have been shuttered, he said. Of these, four were fined and one was issued a stern warning while the other two are still being investigated, he added.
He also said there are currently 29 public entertainment establishments at Orchard Towers, with 23 being nightlife establishments.
However, taking into consideration the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s planning intent, feedback from the community and the prevailing law and order considerations, police have included Orchard Towers in its list of locations where public entertainment licences are unlikely to be granted, Mr Amrin said.
According to the police website, 11 locations including Orchard Towers fall under this category. The others include Boat Quay, Chinatown, Cuppage Plaza, Geylang, Joo Chiat, Blair Plain in Kampong Bahru, Kampong Glam, Little India, Orchard Plaza and Parklane Shopping Mall.
In terms of manpower devoted to the area, Mr Amrin said more resources have been deployed such as Special Operations Command troops.
“This enhanced presence is supplemented with increased deployment in CCTV cameras to deter streetwalking and other illegal activities,” Mr Amrin added.
“Police will continue to keep a close watch on the law and order situation at Orchard Towers and ensure the safety of the public.”
MP Louis Ng asked if these actions address the root of the issue, and will there be an “Orchard Towers part 2” in the future.
To this, Mr Amrin acknowledged that there has to be an outlet for people to entertain themselves.
“I think that is a given, but what's important is the law and order situation has to be maintained,” he said.
“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.”