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     FrontPage Edition: Mon 21 January 2008

 Gambling and prostitution situation in Geylang under control


Oral Answer to Parliamentary Question on what plans does MHA have for curbing the rampant gambling and prostitution activities in the Geylang area

Assoc Prof Kalyani K Mehta:
To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs what plans does his Ministry have for curbing the rampant gambling and prostitution activities in the Geylang area as the efforts so far do not seem very effective.
Senior Minister of State, Assoc Prof Ho Peng Kee:
Governments throughout the world have tried to eradicate vice but without success. In Singapore, we take a pragmatic approach to tackling vice by confining prostitution to traditional red light areas. Through sustained enforcement efforts by Police, the vice situation in Singapore is under control.
Last year, Police conducted some 950 vice-related operations island-wide up from 890 operations the year before. As a result of these enforcement effort, some 5,400 foreign prostitutes were arrested, a 25% increase compared to 2006. As many foreign sex workers congregate in Geylang, Police have regularly mounted enforcement operations against vice there.
Besides enforcement, Police has also initiated several vice-control measures. For example, Police started to deploy CCTVs along selected Geylang streets in 2006 to prevent crime, which also have the positive effect of deterring solicitation by sex workers.
In addition, Police imposes stringent licensing conditions for entertainment outlets and massage establishments there.
MHA and Police also work closely with agencies such as the Hotel Licensing Board and URA to regulate the operations and development of budget hotels and lodging houses there.
In 2002, Geylang Neighbourhood Police Centre formed a dedicated Task Force to supplement Anti-Vice Branch in tackling vice in the Geylang area.
Illegal gambling in Geylang is not rampant. Police conducts daily operations and high-visibility patrols targeted at public gaming activities in the Geylang backlanes.
This resulted in 280 persons being arrested for public-gaming related offences last year. As a result of these operations, Police’s assessment is that the situation has improved. Public gaming activities are significantly less frequent and are smaller in scale.
In summary, the situation in Geylang is under control. Police will continue to monitor the situation and press on with enforcement efforts against vice and gambling in the area.
But I should add that it is not realistic to expect vice to be totally eliminated. We have an open economy and promote tourism as one key economic sector. More than 10 million visitors came to Singapore in 2007. We expect more to come in future years as new tourism products are introduced.
Among those who come, there will be a very small number who enter under the pretext of social visits but engage in vice activities. This is the reality which Singaporeans should face up to.

Source: News 21 Jan 2008

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