In an unusual show of disdain for the ‘veterans’ at Geylang and Joo Chiat, a multi-agency task force swooped down on Thursday to evict the area of 108 persons involved in “illegal gambling activities, secret society involvement, peddling contraband cigarettes, vice-related activities, trafficking and drug-related offences” (according to TODAY). Then, on Saturday, another 138 persons were removed (according to MyPaper) just to make certain the message got across.

As if the authorities only just became aware of these activities over the past and not anytime in the previous decades of operation, more than 200 mostly-underpaid civil servants from “the Singapore Police Force, Central Narcotics Bureau and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority together with Singapore Customs” were robbed of a good night’s sleep (at least) to round up the alleged criminals. It is highly probable that many of the same officers would have been robbed of a perfectly good Saturday night as well to be involved in the second operation. This is not considering the countless man-hours that will be now spent in the coming weeks investigating and prosecuting the 246 alleged criminals – all at the expense of taxpayer dollars and considerable (unpaid) overtime by several of the aforementioned underpaid civil servants.

Apparently, the authorities will continue with the enforcement action as “such criminal activities cannot be tolerated”, according to CID director, Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police Ng Boon Gay. He did not clarify if the past decades of allowing the Geylang and Joo Chiat areas to thrive in these very criminal activities was due to blissful ignorance then.

One source who has no intimate knowledge of the situation and is by no stretch of the imagination an expert on the subject (but who nonetheless enjoys being critical of Singapore and talking loudly) suggested that the opening of the Integrated Resorts (IRs) would necessitate all gambling addicts and vice-related ‘activists’ to move or adapt their operations to the IR vicinity to boost patronage there. Alluding to the IRs as a “cannot fail project”, our source looked over his shoulder before suggesting that it was obvious that the authorities would start to come down hard on the illegal gambling sector, now that the option to generate revenue legally from gambling is available to the government.

And as if to corroborate this speculation, MyPaper tells us today that Ang Mo Kio Police Division has got into the act as well and raided a “condominium at midnight last Friday, and arrested 13 men and two women, aged between 21 and 27.” The most telling piece of information is the Acting Commander, Superintendent Manimaran Pushpanathan’s ‘friendly’ advice that “(i)llegal gambling operators are sadly mistaken if they think they can escape detection by operating under the cover of funeral wakes or private premises.” Again, this good actor overlooked clarifying why such funeral-gambling was not addressed before – since it is safe to assume people have been dying since time immemorial.

Meanwhile our source, citing the years of money-making schemes economy enhancing policies that the Singapore Government is famed for, was confident that the increased clampdown on illegal gambling was no coincidence with the opening of the IRs, and is sure that the purpose is to dissuade patrons from visiting illegal gambling dens and instead simply ‘donate’ the $100 to the IR and waste their money there (not to mention, enjoy the better toilet facilities).

In any case, whilst having no experience with the subject matter but using the all-powerful commonsense, we tend to agree that the enhanced vice-raids will consequently improve the patronage at the IRs by (a) scaring patrons (i.e. divert demand), and (b) putting the illegal gambling den operators out of business (i.e. reduce competitive supply).

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