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Full of inaccuracies: MHA on Nikkei Asia opinion piece that KTVs are illegal brothels controlled by organised crime

The MHA director said in a statement that the opinion piece should have been, "based on facts, not imagined realities.”

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Singapore — Mr Sam Tee, a senior director at the Ministry of Home Affairs’ (MHA) Joint Operations Group, said that an opinion piece published on Jul 23 in Nikkei Asia alleging that KTV lounges are illegal brothels and are controlled by organised crime is “full of inaccuracies”.

On Wednesday (Jul 28), Mr Tee rebutted many of the points made in Nikkei Asia article, entitled “The Institutional Failures Behind Singapore’s Latest COVID Outbreak,” written by a Mr Andy Wong.

The MHA director said in a statement that the opinion piece should have been “based on facts, not imagined realities”.

“First, you state that most KTVs in Singapore are fronts for money laundering or ‘illegal brothels run by organised crime cartels’. Your correspondent does not explain how he came to this conclusion,” he wrote.

He also rejected allegations concerning organised crime, underlining that “Singapore is one of the least likely places in the world to find organised crime syndicates running operations. The 2020 Gallup Global Law and Order Report ranked Singapore first for law and order, for the seventh year running.”

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He added that while authorities know of the presence of sex workers in KTV lounges and other venues, they cannot prevent people from meeting there.

Mr Tee added, however, that any “sexual activity in these premises will be a breach of licensing conditions.”

As for Mr Wong’s allegation in his article that the KTV lounges had been allowed to reopen “without explanation,” Mr Tee said this was also untrue.

“Your correspondent made sweeping statements, without basic checks,” wrote the MHA director.

He added that the police have conducted more than 200 operations on KTV lounges, plus other raids conducted by various agencies.

Mr Tee also sought to clarify that the infection cluster in KTV lounges is now under control, saying, “The KTV cluster that your article refers to has been swiftly contained, with about five new cases linked to it each day from 22 to 26 July, and declining.”

Mr Wong was described by Nikkei Asia as “a political and business intelligence analyst based in Singapore.” He pointed out in his piece that 192 Covid-19 infections are directly linked to an outbreak centred around KTV lounges.

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He also alluded to the darker side of these establishments, writing that they are “not innocent family-friendly affairs” but “are fronts for illegal brothels run by organized crime cartels,” similar to “another outbreak in Taiwan earlier this year.”

Mr Wong added that the KTV lounge outbreak “exposed the pernicious role of organized vice enterprises in Singapore, and the institutional failure of the country’s much-vaunted law enforcement to clamp down on them,” and that these lounges operating for decades despite the country’s reputation for moral policing and “being hard on crime” is an open secret. /TISG

Read also: Tommy Koh: MHA should respond to serious accusations that ‘KTV lounges controlled by organised crime, are illegal brothels’

Tommy Koh: MHA should respond to serious accusations that ‘KTV lounges controlled by organised crime, are illegal brothels’

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