Tue, Jan 27, 2009
The New Paper
Prostitutes call on Yishun foreign workers

CALL it sex on delivery.

The foreign workers living in their quarters at Yishun Avenue 6 do not need to travel far for sex.

The women, also foreign nationals, go to their doorstep in cabs and then boldly solicit business just outside the quarters.

Scantily clad and caked in make-up, they wait in groups for workers to approach them. Nearby, their pimps stand and wait.

The current trend is a clear departure from the way illegal vice operators used to conduct business.

Then, they would usually set up makeshift brothels deep in forested areas and take clients there.


Last March, police raided a vice den in the nearby forested area at Yishun and rounded up eight men and 13 women.

Now, the vice operators are back, and are perhaps more audacious than ever.

Their women solicit openly, just metres from the dormitory, which is made up of several fenced-up buildings, next to a road that's normally guarded against such intrusions.

On 8 Jan, police and Immigration and Checkpoints Authority officers raided a foreign worker dormitory there. They arrested 53 people, including 14 women.

Those who often visit the dormitories were taken by surprise by this trend.

Madam Lynette Chua, 35, who accompanied her construction supervisor husband to meet a worker inside the dormitory, was shocked by what she saw last weekend.

'It was like a mini-Geylang,' said the homemaker.

She said she saw 40-odd men surrounding 10 to 15 women.

'I thought this kind of thing is done discreetly, not outside, so open,' she said.

She said she had no idea how they got there since there were security guards. She suspected the girls may have had got there by going through the forest.

When The New Paper on Sunday visited the site on Wednesday, the first sign that something fishy was going on was a taxi dropping off four women just outside the dormitory, where a man had been waiting.

They were just 20m from a guard sitting at a gated dirt road leading to the compound.

The four women, with the man, dashed behind the line of trees just outside the fence. They quickly made their way to an entry point about 50m away, and slipped into a dark, unguarded road.

At 9.15pm, two men escorted another woman in. Likewise, the woman and one man darted behind the treeline once they were beyond where the guard was. One man stayed outside, probably as a lookout.

And so they trickled in.

But the real action was in the back.

Groups of scantily dressed women were spotted waiting on the side of the narrow dirt road that runs between the fenced hostels and the jungle that stretches behind it all the way to the waters off Pulau Seletar.

One group of eight sat on a slope, in front of the trees, chatting in a foreign language or smoking.

Once in a while, one would leave with an approaching worker into the darkness of the forest, holding torchlights.

One Bangladeshi worker, who declined to be named, said the prostitutes charge $20 or $30 for their services. They are all Thai, he said.

'They will go inside the jungle, for this thing,' he said.

It can be troublesome, he said, because it can lead to police raids in the area. Because these are run by foreign pimps, he said, it can also spark fights there.


Then, around 12.30am, five of the women started leaving. Again, not through the back, but by dashing into a waiting taxi on the main road.

Minutes later, another four did the same, after being led out by a muscular, tattooed man.

When contacted, Mr Chng, 62, the supervisor who runs three of six dorms in the workers' quarters, didn't believe that the women were soliciting brazenly, just metres away from the high fence.

His understanding was that they ply their trade only inside the jungle.

'What I know is that they operate a distance away and are warned not to come near the dormitory,' he said.

He added: 'They sneak in from the tracks (from the canal through the forest).'

He declined to give his full name or the name of his company. He was engaged to manage the dorm by Eng Lam Contractors, one of five companies listed as licensees of the Yishun Avenue 6 workers' dormitory on the Ministry of Manpower website.

He said he heard about the 8 Jan raid from one of his managers and said he had got an angry message from the Housing Development Board (HDB) about it.

He insisted it was 'impossible' for prostitutes to be inside his dorms. He said the dormitories require an access card to enter, with turnstiles. However, he said only the high-fenced areas are part of the dorm - everything else is state land and out of his control, he said.

This includes the dirt road, even though there's a barrier and a security guard stationed in front of it.

He said these were installed 'recently' after complaints by the National Environmental Agency and the HDB about illegal dumping.

'There's really nothing much we can do other than informing the police,' he said.

This is even though he has two guards at every dorm, and two more at the dirt road's entry and exit.

No control

He claimed that this sort of thing happens near workers' dormitories all over Singapore. In the dorm, he has rules like no drugs, no alcohol, and no prostitution.

'But outside, there is no way we can control them,' he said.

Under the law, anybody who solicits for the purpose of prostitution can be fined up to $1,000 or jailed up to six months, or both.

This story was first published in The New Paper on 25 January 2009.

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