ST Sep 15, 2009
Tougher rules for new hotels
By Kor Kian Beng
THE Government will come down hard on new hotels that rent rooms by the hour, as it tightens the rules for these places which are often seen as hotbeds of prostitution.
Newcomers applying for an operating licence have to justify why they are offering such rates. In addition, they have to install closed-circuit television systems, and hire guards to preserve the safety of their guests and look out for possible illegal activities.
Hoteliers with an eye on offering such rooms in residential areas will face an even harder time. They are required 'to engage the community and respond to concerns of residents', said Mr S. Iswaran, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, without elaborating.
He announced the new measures in Parliament on Monday. Singapore Tourism Board's director of resource development, Ms Rebecca Lim, said the new rules take effect immediately but apply only to new hotels.
In the debates about foreigners versus citizens in Singapore, the sad plight of our local prostitutes is often neglected.
In the first place, the fact that you've chosen to be a prostitute will often mean that you're already hard-pressed to find any better way of making a living. Unfortunately, nowadays you not only have to compete with other Singaporean prostitutes, you also have to compete with prostitutes from different countries.
And the competition is growing.
When I was a DPP many years ago, I would come across criminal cases involving foreign prostitutes every now and then. (Prostitution itself is not a crime in Singapore - however, prostitutes tend to show up in criminal cases from time to time, either as victims or witnesses). Back then, foreign prostitutes tended to be either from Thailand or the Philippines. Nowhere else, really.
Nowadays, the Thais and the Filipinas are still here, but there are also foreign prostitutes from a much more international background. Even Wikipedia, the world's most popular online encyclopaedia, comments on the wide range of prostitutes' nationalities at Orchard Towers - "They are primarily from Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Russia, Ukraine and a few from mainland China and South America".
The ladies from China even give newspaper interviews now and then. And the wide selection of nationalities available at Geylang recently won praise from a German expatriate.
How did all these women get here? It cannot be the case that the Singapore government has not noticed their presence. Perhaps the PAP has been too liberal with its foreign talent policies.