SINGAPORE: It looked like a scene from an action movie - a splintered door, two halves of the doorknob blasted apart, wood chips littering the threshold.
The smell of alcohol and a general bustle greeted reporters as they trooped into a fourth-floor residential unit at Kim San Leng Building, just a short walk away from City Square Mall.
This was the aftermath of a police raid on an illegal karaoke joint. Some officers were interviewing suspects, while others guarded each of the six rooms, keeping a close watch on patrons who decided to spend their Friday evening (Apr 2) there.
The karaoke joint was one of three outlets found to have provided public entertainment or supplied alcohol without valid licences during an overnight raid that started late on Friday.
Some people had also gathered in groups of more than eight, which is against COVID-19 regulations.
In a media release, the police said 45 people, aged between 24 and 66, will be investigated for allegedly flouting rules under the Public Entertainment Act and Liquor Control Act 2015, as well as for their suspected breach of COVID-19 measures.
Eight people were arrested, one of whom is a 38-year-old man with an outstanding warrant of arrest.
The other seven people, aged 23 and 38, were arrested for offences under the Liquor Control Act 2015 and the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act.
When reporters were taken into the unit, patrons covered their faces and some of them protested when photos were taken.
Nearly all had been in the middle of Mandopop songs from singers including Jacky Cheung and Jay Chou when the police burst in.
Cans of beer and bottles of cognac lined the tables.
“WE’RE GOING TO BE ON THE PAPERS”
The police took the media to the other two locations as well.
At 137 Kitchener Road, at a unit above the Tampines Rovers’ Clubhouse, reporters ascended a narrow stairway into partitioned rooms. They were decorated with plush sofas and flashing neon lights, with a disco ball hanging in one room.
This was a vacant lot which the operators had converted into a KTV space, police told reporters.
“We’re going to be on the papers,” said one patron as reporters entered the room. “There’s so many of them.”
The third location, also along Kitchener Road, is believed to be an office space, said the police. Operators soundproofed the windows in a bid to avoid detection.
In all, CNA observed 12 groups of patrons across the three joints, two of which had more than eight people in a group.
The police were also seen seizing television screens, karaoke equipment and liquor, loading them into a mover van.
POLICE WILL CONTINUE TO TAKE TOUGH ENFORCEMENT ACTION
Under the Public Entertainment Act and Liquor Control Act 2015, the offence of providing public entertainment or supplying liquor without a valid licence carries a fine of up to S$20,000 each.
Under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, the offence of employing a foreign employee without a valid work pass carries a fine of between S$5,000 and S$30,000, a jail term of up to 12 months, or both.
The Act also states that those employed without a valid work pass face a jail term of up to two years, a fine of up to S$20,000, or both.
Those who breach COVID-19 safe distancing measures could be jailed for up to six months, fined up to S$10,000, or both.
Commander of Central Police Division and Assistant Commissioner of Police Gregory Tan said on Saturday morning that the raid was part of the police’s ongoing efforts to clamp down on illegal public entertainment activities.
“The police are aware that unlicensed public entertainment outlets are operating despite COVID-19 restrictions," he said. "The offenders will be dealt with sternly under the law.”