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Monday, Sep 1, 2014

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Geylang sorely in need of transformation

The Straits Times | Monday, Sep 1, 2014

In his National Day Rally speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced plans to transform the Jurong Lake District, starting with an expanded Jurong Lake Gardens that will include a new Science Centre ("Lakeside area will get 'people's garden' "; Aug 18).

One district that is sorely in need of transformation is Geylang.

As it is, Geylang is unique with its combination of shophouses, foreign workers' quarters, karaoke lounges and numerous eateries.

For residents and property owners, Geylang's reputation as a red-light district does not make it an ideal environment to raise families, despite market forces changing the landscape with more condominiums springing up in recent years ("Grungy Geylang seeing new faces"; Monday).

In the aftermath of the Little India riot, the Commissioner of Police acknowledged that Geylang is a potential trouble spot ("1,000 more cops needed to boost force: Police chief"; March 26).

With PM Lee promising to make every corner of Singapore an outstanding environment to live in, Geylang should top the Government's list for transformation and rejuvenation.

While it is impossible to remove the vice scene altogether, the Government could consider the following when transforming Geylang, to maximise its potential:

- Branding the district as a to-go place for tourists to savour exotic food;

- Regulating the red-light district to make it more "sterile". In places like Amsterdam, the red-light district is itself a tourist attraction, and soliciting does not take place on the streets, unlike in Geylang.

- Relocating the entertainment zones such that they are a distance away from the residential zones.

Lee Yong Se


This article was first published on Aug 30, 2014.
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