Sex and Singapore / PAP Retains Monopoly on Sex Industry
- Read on and discover how the PAP conducts hourly raids in Singapore's red-light district, Geylang, and target only chinese women in a bid to protect their own monopoly in this unholy business.
Sex and Singapore
The art of being aggressively cautious
By ROGER MITTON
April 6, 2000
Web posted at 6:30 p.m. Hong Kong time, 6:30 a.m. EST
Despite its new funkiness, the true conservative Singapore character
cannot help shining through -- and thank heavens for that. We would
all be chagrined if Singaporeans really changed. They don't like to
be rash, or even God forbid, wild. I mean, where else but in
Singapore, would the nation's flagship newspaper, The Straits Times,
praise last month's budget presentation in Parliament by Finance
Minister Richard Hu for being "aggressively cautious"? Sounds like an
oxymoron? A bit like being angrily calm. How does one act aggressive
and cautious at the same time? Impossible?
Well, no, not in the Lion City, where the street scenes in places
like Holland Park, Orchard Road, Geyland, Bugis and Chinatown are in-
your-face aggressively wild and wacky. But where officials are
stiffeningly prickly and verbally ultra-cautious when responding to
suggestions that Singapore is no longer such a conservative spot but
rather is evolving into one of the most liberal in Asia -- if not the
world. Even the sophistical rhetorician George Yeo, the trade &
industry minister, took a double take on being asked if this were
true. He concedes that things are changing, and that there is a dark
side to Singapore life, a "penumbra" as he calls it, that co-exists
with the bright wholesome center. Says Yeo: "Every Singaporean knows
there is a penumbra. But they want a bright wholesome area, which we
must maintain. What we do not want is to say that since there's a
penumbra, let it all be grey." So the naughty "grey" stuff will be
kept low-profile, while the squeaky clean image continues to be
The balance is shifting as anyone can see from the tabloid press, the
wild clothes and hairstyles, raunchy films, kitchen sink theater, gay
bars, open red-light areas and indeed everything that Hong Kong,
Bangkok or even New York and London has. It's all there, bright and
visible, in Singapore. It co-exists with the broader picture -- the
bright wholesome image -- that is relentlessly fed to the outside
world. Yeo openly acknowledges the dichotomy. Says he: "The two sides
are contradictory, but they are really two different aspects of a
So while there is a still dominant conservative strain, there is also
a growing liberal strain. But getting a Singaporean to admit that the
city state is liberal is like getting a Manchester United fan to
admit Liverpool have a good team. Take Yeo's aggressively cautious
response when told that Singapore is perhaps the most liberal society
in East Asia these days. Says he: "It depends what you mean by the
word 'liberal.' Because that word carries so much political and
ideological baggage, we are not quite sure whether it is a compliment
or a criticism to be considered a liberal. If you call me a liberal
in the classical sense of being a product of the enlightenment, then
yes, we are happy to be liberals. But if you mean in a libertarian,
loose sense, then no." Actually, it increasingly means both for most
young Singaporeans; but the government prefers that the myth of
Singapore being a clean, efficient -- and most importantly --
conservative society be maintained.
It's a losing battle. Yeo and his PAP government can't fight reality
and the reality is that Singapore is indeed becoming the most liberal
society in Southeast Asia by a country mile. The evidence hits
visitors in the face from the morning Starbucks to the post-midnight
club scene. A recent front page of the daily Business Times, for
God's sake, gobsmacked breakfast readers with 'Sex, sex, sex.'
Prominently displayed at every convenience store counter is a display
of condoms. Indeed, tony Orchard Road boasts a garishly neon-lit
Condomania shop selling all you need to become a safe-sex lothario.
Look at the front covers of all the lifestyle magazines and again
it's sex, sex, sex. Last month's Cleo ran its famous "50 top
bachelors" annual cover, asking the guys such Singaporean questions
as where do you keep your condoms, how long should foreplay last and
so on. These issues are gobbled up by young Lion City chicks out for
a material good time. And check out the clothes these young wannabes
wear and make sure you have your libido under control. Look over the
movies showing -- classified but uncut versions, less censored than
Hong Kong, let alone Bangkok. And don't suggest ladies of the night
are confined to Patpong and King Cross, for they are now Singapore's
boomingest industry, attracting clients and workers from the region
and farther afield.
Says Yeo: "We don't advertise prostitution. But every Singaporean
knows there's a Geylang and things going on there. We would demean
ourselves on our tourist brochures if we advertise the seamier
aspects. It is beneath us."
But nothing is done to stop it as long as it's all done in an
aggressively cautious Singaporean way. As in the newly gentrified
streets of Chinatown, for instance, where boutique hotels and
brothels openly tout for local custom. Houses of pleasure have the
trademark big neon-lit number over the doorway, dozens of them,
catering mainly to local Chinese. Over in the Malay district of
Geylang the same set-up prevails, as it does in the down-market
Desker Road of Little India. For expats, the top end of Orchard Road
is the place, with Orchard Tower full of bars in which working girls
from all over ASEAN ply their trade as the Singapore cops stroll by --
and do nothing. As they do when, in front of the Hilton Hotel on
Orchard Road, working girls and transvestites openly ply their trade -
- aggressively aggressive might better define them.
Yet this is Singapore. What is going on? What is going on is that
anything goes. It is a far less conservative place these days than
Stockholm, Paris or Bangkok. Just don't tell ministers that -- they
don't deny but it makes them feel uncomfortable and they become
aggressively cautious in replying. But then that's the Singapore way
and thank heavens for that.
By: "Mr Sillipore"
16 June 2004
Sexual Prejudice At Its Absolute Worst
Singapore is one weird country. That thought ran through my mind as I gazed
upon the Sunday edition of the Straits Times (copy attached below).
I am still trying to come to grasp with the subtle logic behind the mesh mash
of policies implemented by the nanny state. On the one hand we are told in no
uncertain terms by the government that chewing gum requires a permit (and
registration), and on the other hand it is entirely legal and possible for an
18 year old to avail himself of the services of any one of the few hundred
legal brothels located along the infamous Geylang district.
What gives? Where is the logic? Lets put all that aside and naively accept the
official line towed by Singapore's law enforcement officers, that basically it
is impossible to control the oldest profession in the world, so some control is
better then no control in the noble interest of the general public.
But wait a second here, theres more to this then meets the eye. Not content
with micro-managing the sex lives of the citizens, Singapores law enforcement
officers have also declared that street walking is outlawed. So whilst its
perfectly legal to have a fling with a prostitute in a Geylang brothel, its a
NO No if the same lady approaches you on a street outside the Brothel and
invites you to intercourse in any one of the readily available motels located
in the same street.
There is a hidden agenda in this mesh mash of haphazardly implemented laws.
1) The first obvious economic effect of the mesh mash of convoluted policies is
that they have the net effect of creating a virtual monopoly on the sex trade
in Singapore. Now this is starting to look vaguely familiar if we view the sex
industry as simply another commercial venture.
Make no mistake there is huge money to be made in the gambling and sex industry
and it is small wonder that it has remained the oldest profession in the world.
And like any typical mafia boss, the powers from the havens want a piece of the
action. Usually with a normal trade, the modus operandi is for the GLC/TLC to
move in on the stakes and "unlevel the playing field."
But this is a rather delicate situation...No, Mr Lee and Ms Ho will not (and
cannot) adopt the tried and proven formula: set-up another GLC/TLC to
corporatise the sex trade. That's really not in keeping with the immaculately
clean, virgin white uniform of the dominant party. So how do you have your cake
and eat it, without getting your grubby fingers dirty?
Legalize the trade, and impose a tax on it. Make no mistake, the government has
a direct stake in the set-up. Of cause the actual numbers are shrouded in
secrecy but the amounts involved are substantive. Each working girl in the
legitimized brothels can charge up to SGD150-SGD200 for 45 minutes of tender
loving care. The figure can go up to SGD300 if the customer happened to be a
foreigner who was not conversant with the house rates.
2) The flip side of the coin is that only ladies with permits are allowed to
work in the legal brothels. The Anti-Vice squad maintains a daily log of each
working girl as they have to log-in to their place of work and register each
customer they bed. So it is possible to calculate right down to the dollar, the
daily takings of each girl.
The girls typically originate from either Malaysia and Thailand. Now here's
another mystery, why limit issue of permits to girls originating from only
these two countries?
Again the ultimate effect is to create barriers to entry for other races (from
eastern European countries and especially from Mainland China). The Anti-Vice
squad conduct nightly raids on illegal streetwalkers (who also happen to be
mainly China girls). The women are often chased and physically beaten by
Singapore Law Enforcement officers, all in the noble name of cleaning of the
streets. Never mind the minor fact that their legitimate counter-part is
selling the very same product next door in a legal brothel.
In this respect we must really applaud Singapore's conscientious law
enforcement officers. So dedicated are these virtuous gentlemen to their duties
that they even saw it within their duties to avail themselves of the services
of the very victims they were targeting. In the past years there have been
several formal reports of law enforcement officers who have performed above and
beyond their call of duty in this aspect.
So that then is how we end up with this unholy marriage of policies. The merits
of the venture are determined solely on corporate business strategies. Moral
values have no place and is rendered totally irrelevant in the final analysis.
In this case the final victims are of cause the street walkers who not have to
pay a King's Ransom in getting protection money from their personal "Ma Fu"
(the local equivalent of a pimp who is supposed to look out for them and warn
them of police raids). The government owned media (Straits Times and Sunday
Times) have also been roped in to churn out bad publicity regarding female
Chinese migrants. Many of these women are here for legitimate factory jobs but
have been marginalized by local Singapore women who deem them as husband
To those of you who want to flame me because I am taking the side of the China
hookers, please remember that the sex trade is already there and thriving in
its legitimized form and any argument you wish to address to me can also be
addressed to our dear PAP government.
It is indeed a sad day when Singapore's Ruling Elite are reduced to virtual
pimps and living off the takings of the sex industry. My hats of to you folks.
Thats the government that you elected.
China girls hitting on kopitiam Ah Peks
They target older men with CPF money at Geylang coffee shop
By Li Xueying
KOPI, teh or China lady?
At star station 23, in Geyland Lorong 23, heartland Ah Peks and China
women mingle in a no-frills, no air-con, low-cost version of a
A kopitiam in Geylang's Lorong 23 has gained notoriety for being
a 'no-frills, no-aircon' and low-cost version of a karaoke lounge
where women from China accost grey-haired Ah Peks.
For men whose CPF pensions can't support exquisite Gong Li-lookalikes
and $350-a-bottle Chivas Regal at swanky lounges like Tiananmen, Star
Station 23 Cafe Restaurant is perfect.
Some businesses in the area, such as brothels and restaurants, resent
its presence. Others say the colourful denizens of Star Station 23
have been good for business.
Green plastic tables dot the coffee shop where retirees nurse 80-cent
Chinese tea or $6 Heineken for hours. Each time a woman enters the
premises, they check her out from head to toe.
If they like what they see, they beckon her over. If not, their eyes
flicker back to actress Phyllis Quek on the mounted TV screen, or to
their copy of Shin Min.
Making her move, a China woman zeroes in on a prospective client.
Competition is tough, so many are bold about approaching men.
The bolder women, meanwhile, zero in on prospects, unsolicited.
Speaking in lilting accents, they flirt with their long hair and
tease with their hands. If the chemistry - and the price - is right,
they adjourn, with their trick, to a nearby hotel.
It's a community in there.
The friendly kopitiam cleaner came to wipe the table where I was
seated with my female photographer colleague and asked in
Mandarin: 'Just got here today?'
In three hours, my colleague and I were propositioned three times.
Referring to me, one of the men told his companion at the next table
in Hokkien: 'This one - new girl. Never seen before.'
Competition is tough. The women are here on 30-day social passes, and
need to recoup the money they borrowed to pay for their air ticket.
Ms Huang arrived from Jiangsu province on June 3, on a 11,000 yuan
(S$2,255) loan. She has had only one customer so far, who paid $80
for her services. She said: 'It's so hard. There are so many young
pretty girls here. Who wants a 40-year-old like me?'
After some flirting and teasing, if the chemistry and price are
right, the couple may adjourn to a hotel. -- WANG HUI FEN
It was her first time prostituting herself, claimed the divorcee. The
high-school graduate worked as an accountant until she was retrenched
in 1997. 'My son is 18, and we need money for his university fees. It
costs 1,000 yuan a month. I look down on myself for doing this but
there's no choice,' she said tearfully.
A 60-something man, with thinning hair and a toothy grin, approached
her and asked: 'Why so unhappy?' Some 45 minutes later, they were
Ms Wang, 32, who arrived on Wednesday from Funan county in Anhui
province, was luckier. Fair, sweet and doe-eyed, she landed a
customer in his 60s, who gave her $300 for spending the whole night
She had told her gambler husband that she was going to find work in
Shenzhen. They have two children, aged seven and 10.
'I heard that these older men are better than the younger ones.
They're not so cunning and they won't run off without paying. Anyway,
I just close my eyes.'
Some of the men at the kopitiam claim they weren't there for sex, but
just to talk to the girls for 'company'. Odd-job labourer Khoo, 55,
claimed: 'I come here once every two weeks not for the girls, but
because the kopi here is very sweet.'
The stallholders, meanwhile, said they 'don't know anything'.
Other businesses in the area say the China girls began coming around
two or three years ago.
Hong Kee Noodle Restaurant, located across the road from Star Station
23, has seen its business drop 40 per cent since.
'The customers get scared off. These girls are here when I open shop
at 9am, and they're here when I close at 9pm. Sometimes, they come in
without ordering and we'll chase them out,' said its manager, 59, who
wanted to be known only as Ms Chong.
Chinese construction worker Zhang, 35, who rents the unit on the
third level of the building, said the women are so aggressive that
he's 'scared to go down to buy food'. 'They will pull at our arms
asking if we want to 'play' with them,' he said.
Not surprisingly, the legitimate brothels at Lorong 18 have been hit.
Mr Ong, who manages 11 Thai girls, said: 'These China girls are very
clever. They know how to target these old men with the CPF money.
They eat, drink and talk to them. They're like girlfriends. But it's
dangerous because they don't go for medical checkups.'
His prostitutes charge $40 for a 20- to 25-minute session, and are
not allowed to 'socialise' with the men outside the brothel. The
Chinese streetwalkers, on the other hand, negotiate their own rates.
Some may work with pimps.
Shop owners told The Sunday Times that police raid the area at least
twice every two weeks.
But an hour later, the girls are always back, said Ms Chong.
Not everyone resents Star Station 23's presence. On San Woh Medical
Hall, for example, has extended its opening hours from 8pm to 10.30pm
after business went up by 10 to 20 per cent, fuelled by sales of
condoms and Chinese medication.