Shanmugam throws weight behind police raids on illegal brothel


Law and Home Affairs Minister, K Shanmugam, has come out to fully support police actions against illegal brothels. Videos of the raids by Police uploaded by Project X Director, Vanessa Ho, had earlier gone viral. Some netizens had commented that the Police actions seem high-handed.

Police accused of terrorising women by using battering rams, sledgehammers during brothel raid

Project X was established in November 2008 by Wong Yock Leng, a social worker who recognized that sex workers in Singapore are amongst the most marginalized and discriminated in society, and saw a gap in services for the sex worker community.

Mr Shanmugam lambasted such criticisms as “deeply flawed”. He further described such netizens’ sympathies for those in the brothels as “misplaced”.

The following is Mr Shanmugam’s comments made in his Facebook in full:

[ Police raids on illegal brothels ]

There have been some comments on the nature of police raids on illegal brothels. They break down doors, wear masks and so on. And that all of this is wrong.

I fully support the Police in their actions and the tactics they have adopted.

Speed and surprise are key elements during raids. Police cannot be expected to knock on the door, and wait for a response.

What do we expect – the gangsters (who might be present) will open the door, and politely admit to their actions? And even if gangsters are not present, we expect the women involved to be co-operative?

And once people know that police will always knock on the door, and wait, then what does one expect in the future?

Police wear masks during such operations because criminal gangs could go for them, if their identities are known. Illegal brothels are often run by criminal syndicates. It’s big business. The men behind it will retaliate, if they can.

I get quite puzzled with the kind of criticisms, and the deeply flawed, misplaced sympathies.

The Police are acting to protect everyone, from illegal vice. We criticise them and instead focus our sympathies on the women involved in the vice trade?

Some of the women are victims themselves – victims of the syndicates.

And there has to be sympathy for such victims. And wherever possible, we should try and help them. But that should not colour our views on what the Police need to do.


  1. Whats wrong with police taking down on this ppl?or shd the police polietly knock on this door .?Those who support this criminals n law breakers should have their brain scan.

  2. Raiding the brothels is ok; what is wrong is public shaming those women driven to prostitution.
    Of coz our erudite Law Minister who has spoken on topics OUTSIDE his portfolio (TC, SMRT etc) does has his right to obfuscate the issue.

  3. Wonder why there are a few hundred “licensed brothels “ in gaylang ???
    Wonder who are the “syndicate “ operating this brothels?
    Seems like illegal can be leegal as long as it is operated under the law of white termite gang ……..

  4. Damaging private properties allowed in mata SOPs ?
    In case:
    – kena the wrong house (anyway the assumption is still innocent until proven guilty in SG)
    – the brothel operators often not the actual owner of the property (and may not know that the property used for vice), mata just happily whack during the raid… who pay for the repair & replacement ?
    – just because they may be gangsters = mata can behave like even bigger gangsters ??
    – and since prostitution itself no illegal in SG, why the need to terrorise and shame the prostitutes who are often victims as claimed by Sham, now mata SOP = victims are handcuff meh ???

    • 1) if kena wrong house, if lah, then the owner can sue mata but so far no such incidents yet. So it proves mata very ‘zhun’ in their investigation before action.
      (There is no such notion as innocence until proven guilty in Sg. Don’t watch so much US drama. In Sg, the burden of proving you are innocence is on you and it is not what happened that matters, it’s what you can prove.
      2) answered by Suan Siang Yeo. Just because you don’t know, can’t be bothered, don’t care to find out, doesn’t mean you are alright. Ignorance is not bliss.
      3) mata not behaving like even bigger gangsters. They have to be aggressive because they are dealing with aggressive people. They are nice and polite and courteous if you are.
      4) prostitution is not Illegal in Singapore if operated at licensed venue. Outside of that, it is illegal. One more thing to note, prostitution is not illegal in licensed brothels but solicitation is illegal.
      If by raiding and arresting prostitutes is deemed as terrorizing and shaming them, perhaps some Singaporeans can volunteer to go along on operations next time and talk nicely to them to surrender themselves. Maybe ask them come out, go lim kopi and then surrender at NPC pleasantly. However these civilians are responsible for anyone who runs away.

      Hope it answer your queries, remember, Ignorance Is Not Bliss!

      For more info, ask your daddy and mummy, or even your ah ma ah gong, they lived in era where police were really really gangsters but it also resulted in Sg now safe and peaceful.

    • 2. Actually under the CPC 31.—(1) Where a police officer or other person executing any search under this Division demands entry or access to a place liable to search under this Division, the occupier or any person in charge of the place must allow him free entry or access and provide all reasonable facilities for a search in it
      (did the mata asked in the first place?)
      Force entry allowed only if free entry or access to that place cannot be obtained as per the above section…
      And nowhere in the CPC said no need to compensate…

    • Nobody against the mata in doing their job… it is the way it was done that Vanessa was against… as you have pointed out, police intel very zhun de, u think they would have invited the media to come along if violent resistance was expected?

    • Choy Weng Leong does the division also state that it applies if illegal activities is conducted on the premises?

      I think the mata would have shouted ‘open the door’!

      It also says ‘demands entry’. It mean it will not be asked nicely. Otherwise it would say ‘ask permission for entry’ or ‘asked to be invited’.

    • Choy Weng Leong well you never can tell. Situation do escalate but the mata can only to their best ability not to bring the situation to that point.

      There is no need for element of surprise. Where are the occupants gonna go? Jump out of the window? And the occupants can’t flush condoms down the toilet bowl.

      Maybe you can advise the mata to cut the electricity and water to the unit and wait outside till the occupants surrender themselves.

      Besides if the police made it such a fanfare, they would have more than just evidence within the premise to prosecute the occupants.

      If the media aren’t invited, then where got news report on it? Then you would not have known it happened.

      Vanessa is just another one with an opinion on matters and everything. Like the whole world supposed to move according to her. Let’s hope when she needs the police urgently, the mata would bring hell and fire to her aid.

    • Choy Weng Leong The police are raiding the place probably based on information that illegal activities are taking place in those premises. All the occupants have to do was to open the door. The police are just doing their job.

    • Once again… nobody against the mata for doing their job, the complaint was the need for shock and shame… as even Sham had pointed out the sex workers often also the victims and one of the most marginalised group in SG

    • Choy Weng Leong with the exception of the Misuse of Drugs Act. the onus is on the defendant to prove his innocence.

      Section 18 of the MDA provides as follows:

      Presumption of possession and knowledge of controlled drugs

      18.-(1) Any person who is proved to have had in his possession or custody or under his control –

      (a) anything containing a controlled drug;

      (b) the keys of anything containing a controlled drug;

      (c) the keys of any place or premises or any part thereof in which a controlled drug is found; or

      (d) a document of title relating to a controlled drug or any other document intended for the delivery of a controlled drug,

      shall, until the contrary is proved, be presumed to have had that drug in his possession.

      (2) Any person who is proved or presumed to have had a controlled drug in his possession shall, until the contrary is proved, be presumed to have known the nature of that drug.

    • Michael G R Lum I quote “….mata not behaving like even bigger gangster .blah blah because they have to be aggressive to deal with aggressive people …?( hmmm so I presumed the aggressive people whom you so fondly spoke off are the prostitute ?….)
      Anyone arrested are innocent until verdict is passed in the name of law , so why are these so called law enforcers shaming these seeming to be sex providers workers ? In Hongkong , not only they are not allow to be publicly shamed , their face have to be shield away from the public esp media upon arrest .

      How come I doubt see such aggressive arrest during little India riot ? Apparently all the seeming to be courage only seen display when arrest kids , elderly and women ?

      Are the law enforcers following proper protocol ? Seriously I have my doubts ?

    • Andrew Koh At this point of time I give you a tight slap also doing my job to shut you up…. so does it means it’s the right thing to do?
      You could have cease talking if I ask nicely

    • No, u got me wrong. I was clarifying misconception that some pple have that notion of innocent until proven guilty does not apply to Sg. Which is not true, as stated by former AG, the Court, as well as Sham.

    • No. I am not the owner of that property. But actually have friend that unfortunately previously kena – it was company lease some more 防不胜防, fortunately the “raid” was not so drama and nothing was damaged.
      So it is not improbable that the owner was unaware.

  5. What do you expect from Singapore Pussies Force (SPF)?
    Boys play, just simple things to be done and put like they are fighting against terrorist.
    Dress and armed to the teeth.
    Using rams cannot even open a door.
    Three to five pussies cannot even arrest one man.
    Waste of resources.

  6. “Police wear masks during such operations because criminal gangs could go for them, if their identities are known. Illegal brothels are often run by criminal syndicates. It’s big business. The men behind it will retaliate, if they can.”

    Big business thats clearly undersirable.. so why allow brothels to exist in the first place Mr. Minister? Is that not an even more important question that needs an answer? Why spend time slapping concerned citizens?

    “deeply flawed, misplaced sympathies.” Not so…. more likely its symptomatic of netizens lashing out at government at every opportunity so they can express their dissatisfaction with the arrogance, bullying tactics and draconian laws imposed on ordinary citizens.

    Criminal gangs will go for police if their identities are known? Pure drama rama.. they dont need to know that. Any man in blue wld do if they really wanna hit back!

    Where were the ski masks, battering rams, water guns and bravado when Little India erupted? That was a full scale riot mind u.. real danger.. lives were at risk. Our home team ran like rats! Our police chief went incognito and stayed a safe distance away? State assets were destroyed, burnt to the ground. Where were u then? Where was the accountability of government when things went awry? Surely u can understand the frustration of our citizens. Can you even begin to fathom why citizens lash out at the government good and bad .Perhaps MIW should get off their high horse and do some real thinking for a change!

  7. Whenever this shanmugam start talking, we know that this is so wrong. Remember PAP always ownself praise ownself. When come to MRT breakdown, all keep quiet. There are so many unsolved crimes such as phone scam. They do not want to talk about it. This whole police raids just a wayang only! They want to show that their incompetent police is doing something.

  8. Well put Shan… but on the other hand, ain’t these voluptuous women of the oldest profession laboring away to provide Singkies a necessary service? … for thanks to them in large part, a case can be made for the low incidence of sexual harassment/molestation here at home as opposed to endless slew of recent news about men behaving badly in supposed enlightened civil society. Striking the balance, would seem to me is elementary. Would you disagree Shan?

  9. Police is doing their jobs.
    Public shaming is very much medias issue n problems.. Like how this news is reported.
    Obviously this news is not reported by SPF but medias.
    To say SPF shaming the women.. Then media reporting it also played the roles in shaming.

    • India riots was least expected n not planned for.
      This illegal prostitution raid is planned for…
      We have to see the difference.
      Using hammers n others tools by SPF is for breaking locks n not for hammering nor threatening prostitutes… Medias are written in such manner that SPF are using it on prostitutes…. As well as (media)indirectly shaming prostitutes… using this event to gain readers.

  10. Sham means by barging in, the “gangsters” will admit to their actions ? lol…and nowdays, those who operate brothels may not be gangsters anymore…..still living in the 80s ?

  11. Why everything also ministers want to talk or side? What happen to the police chief when it’s him who should be talking? Ministers need to lighten up and plan for our countries survival – not involving petty domestic stuff!!! Real Leaders know how to delegate !!!

  12. If we keep on with the relentless raiding of the prostitute dens, I am afraid we may become the next rapist country after India. We need a bit of red in a city of green, otherwise we will turn into another dull North Korea. Tourists like a bit of hot stuff for entertainment. Sex sells and lures.

  13. Apparently such aggressive and prompt arrest only apply to situations of kids , elderly and women ? 5 big guys from CID were sent to bring a secondary school boy namely Benjamin Lim to station and questioning , I presume he is dangerous too ?
    To the vender of this brothel , a piece of advice to you .
    “Pay your taxes”….

  14. Yeah, damn right they were doing their job. And also, why didn’t they bring a battle tank to aim the turret at the door? Or fire several machine guns through the window while tear-gassing the complex, and then hang the heads of the criminals on poles as a warning to others?

    HOOO-YA. *Thumps chest like a gorilla*. Police STRONG siah.

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