Heartland brothels in HDB flats keep returning despite police raids and resident complaints

Photo: Jnzl’s Photos/Flickr
Photo: Jnzl’s Photos/Flickr

Brothels housed in harmless-looking HDB flats have been emerging in the Pioneer and West Coast estates, leading to MPs of the areas calling for harsher enforcement action after receiving residents’ complaints. From the outside looking in, these units seem unremarkable enough — unless you notice the unusual number of men paying visits to the residents.

According to The Straits Times, one such flat is a four-room rental in Jurong West Street 61, which has housed several foreign women over the past year. Even though the police have conducted quite a few raids in the vicinity, these HDB brothels keep coming back because of low rental rates and the convenient, discreet location for clients (as compared to Geylang).

They’ve also been uncovered in neighborhoods like Serangoon, Ang Mo Kio, Sembawang, and Yishun (of course). Just this year, the police raided two brothels in Jurong West — and they’ve been doing so since 2014.

Pioneer MP Cedric Foo, whose ward encompasses the Jurong West Street 61 flat, said that he has gotten feedback about suspected vice activity in the area. Complaints included safety concerns and the negative influence of the tenants.

“Such undesirable activities should not be tolerated and I hope the police and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority can do more to stop them,” he declared.

ST recently sent a reporter to pay a visit to the unit after learning about it from an online listing and making arrangements via text message. Inside, four skimpily dressed women who claimed they were visiting from China on social visit passes or tourist visas told ST that they offered “all sorts of services” for their customers.

Over two hours, at least five men who looked to be between the ages of 20 and 60 were seen entering the flat.

Although most residents in the block did not realize that illicit activities were going on in that particular unit, they admitted that they’d heard of other HDB brothels operating in the area.

No stats on the number of vice activities in public housing have been provided, but news reports on enforcement actions since the beginning of the year show that more than 80 women have been arrested for their suspected involvement in such activities.

Of course, the use of HDB flats for illicit activities is prohibited. “We will not hesitate to take stern action against flat owners who misuse their flats, including imposition of fines and/or compulsory acquisition of the flat and/or debarment from buying another HDB flat,” said an HDB spokesman.

Unlicensed brothel operators can be fined up to $10,000 and/or sentenced to a maximum of five years in jail.

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