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The KENKO Wellness Spa - The largest Chain of Foot Reflexology and Spa in Singapore at the junction of South Bridge Road with Upper Cross Street in Singapore's Chinatown from Shutterstock.com

Enforcement of service hours restriction on massage parlours is slothful work by authorities

From March 1, massage parlours with CaseTrust accreditation or which conduct their services in plain view will have their operating hours restricted from 7am to 10.30pm.  Those without the CaseTrust accreditation have to abide by even shorter hours: from 10am to 10.30pm.

This is in accordance to the Massage Establishments Licensing Framework 2018 introduced via the Massage Establishments Bill passed through Parliament in 2017.

Some owners of the massage parlours have appealed to the police regarding the changing of service hours restrictions. Many of the owners who own the 24-hours spas, which are all CaseTrust accredited, stated that they previously operated until early morning or round the clock. They have told The Sunday Times that they have spoken to the Members of Parliament of their various constituencies, and are appealing against the changes.

They stated that if they close at 10 pm, they may lose a significant percentage of clients and fear that they might have to let go some of their staffs.

One of the clients who often visits the parlour late at night told ST, "While it's great that the Government is taking the issue of illegal activities seriously, a better way to respond to this might be to perhaps have more checks on licensing, or perhaps instil a rating or ranking system to help the public know which parlours are credible."

However, President of the Spa & Wellness Association of Singapore, Edward Wong, said that most of its members are not affected by the new restrictions as they already operate within regular working hours, adding, "Hopefully, the new regulations will help cut down illegal activities in residential areas."

Many commented on this issue and disagreed with how the government is pushing the restriction upon the businesses.

Melvin Mark Chia wrote, "Where did people get the misconception that illegal activities mostly takes place in the night? It is on days where people finish work at 10pm that they truly need a massage. And now even that is taken away. How come your casino don't close at 10pm?"

Fenn Liew wrote, "By painting every establishment with the same tainted brush is essentially slothful work on the part of the authorities involved.
And you're killing the businesses of legitimate massage shops. What about honest customers who go solely for foot reflexology and can only make it after 10pm?why are they getting penalised too? My family and I work til after 11pm everyday and the only time we can go for a massage is at 12mn. Beef up on your checks if you believe that certain shops are conducting unsavoury business but do not take the easy way out and Rob honest businesses and their customers of what is their right."

Serene Ong wrote, "I don’t think implementing a blanket rule and affecting legit, honest business is fair. I frequent 24hrs massage places quite regularly, and it appeals to people who have to work late or want to enjoy some relaxation at night. Just because a minority of places conduct vice, Govt decides to implement this ruling and affect the majority of legit business and customers? I don’t think it’s fair and definitely won’t deter vice in Singapore. Anyway, even as a customer, it’s quite easy to recognise spas that conduct vice. They are usually the ones with curtains to close off the entire doors, in dodgy locations with dodgy names etc. I don’t think closing early can eliminate such spas though. People who operate vice will just go to more obscure places or find other loopholes. It’s already hard enough for legit business in Singapore, why make it worst?"

Regina Lim wrote, "Instead of closing down such 24 hrs establishment, a better way will be more random spot checks on establishments and those who flout the law with have their 24 hours license terminated immediately. Or after accumulating x demerit points. To make Singapore a more vibrant city, it needs to have various options for people if it doesn't affect the neighbourhood. In today's world, not all works from 9-5 pm or 3-10 pm. It's good to have outlets opening past the normal operating hours like don don donki and Mustafa. It address the over crowded situations in some areas or at certain time. Let it be a commercial decision and work towards a more vibrant city that doesn't sleep."

Marcus Chew wrote, "This restriction kills decent massage center, sad to say this is extremely unnecessary. There are many other ways to control “improper” massage, concerned authority should consider again."

August Chua wrote, 'Will there be a rule to suggest you are only allowed to buy plastic knife instead of stainless steel knife just because knives can be used as an offensive weapon? Some people have full of ideas but fail to see the practical side. For businessmen, time is money not sitting on the chair blowing hot air."

Lionel Nicholas Ng wrote, "Government damn lazy. Always want to do things the easy way at the expense of their citizens and honest businesses. Always blanket ban everything. Please let me a lawmaker in parliament also. I don’t have to think so hard to come up with these ideas as well."

Richard Goh wrote, "Either you don't control and let 24hrs spa open so many establishment over such a short span, and led to many hanky panky massage parlor forming, or you over control until those decent massage parlor suffers/customers looking for a late night good massage after work also suffer. Our dear government, you need to find a balance between under control and over control. You are paid extremely decent and don't tell me you can only think of extreme measures. Go to the ground, understand what your people needs. Don't stay in your suites and "think" what we need. Don't assume just because you are given a strong mandate."

Ignatius Koh wrote, "Lazy ass authorities. Blanket ruling when you can't be bothered to target the illegal ones. All massage parlours to apply for licenses to operate. Regular and random checks should be conducted and if illegal activities are found to be carried out, you get shut down immediately. How difficult is that? Instead, innocent businesses pay the penalty for the errant ones, whom by the way, will find other ways to go around the new rulings anyway. Well done authorities!"

Mark Turner wrote, "10:30 seems a bit early to close. Especially Fri-Sat nights. Why not extend to midnight? They can still minimise the vice aspect by eliminating 24 hr spas. Sounds like echoes of the alcohol sale restriction."

Dhil Nasir wrote, "What about monthly spotchecks for all spas and massage parlours? Or maybe a qualified ,trained and certified, licensed only masseurs can work in the establishment? Why because of certain bad seeds, you affect the good establish ones? It is so easy to recognise the bad seeds. I always see when one close down(got caught), another one will reopen back at the same spot. Cant you see the “owner” (different name but same person/shareholders) are playing the law game? One got caught, another one will take over but all will always be profitable. Dumb rules!"

Andrii Antiukhov wrote, "I return to home after 10 pm usually in Singapore need hard work to survive. And now only one way to go to spa is weekend, but in weekends now everything busy, already booked. Something stupid."

Larry Tan wrote, "Singapore is really becoming unlivable. They are enacting all these rules in the name of "cleaning up" when in actual fact it's just another way to profit from fines. Money faced government!"

Bernard Low wrote, "This show we pay millions get monkey solution by government. Just because of a few black sheep they affect many people. Most vice activities also happen in Pub and bar. Why they do not ask bar or pub to close at 10.30pm? most Pub and Bar and Spa operate at after office hour and the recent vice crack down are mainly at pub. Minister should come up with a better plan to help control since we paid them millions. But if the solution is so simple... why need them."

Shaik Hafeez wrote, "Soon the government will impose that everyone sleep at 9pm."