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Seated or standing behind glass windows, scantily-clad women "display" themselves and proposition men walking by to "come for massage". Their units, which are largely on the fourth and fifth storeys of the mall, stand alongside established halal food eateries, hair salons and nail parlours. Shopowners and workers told The Straits Times that the women moved in about two years ago and have become more brazen over the past year or so. Mr Joseph Liang, 42, who works on the fifth storey, said he avoids bringing his seven-year-old son to work.
If you look back , they will ask you to come in for a massage. They wear very little and some are very upfront about it. Neighbouring shops said the massage parlour units used to house fashion retailers and beauty shops. The shift in services at Far East Plaza comes at a time when some malls are experiencing falling occupancy rates. Property consultant Nicholas Mak, the executive director of ZACD Group, said e-commerce has changed the retail market, resulting in landlords and owners facing a tough choice of forgoing rent, or earning from "any tenant that comes along".
To rebuild its reputation, landlords voted at its annual general meeting that year to pass a by-law to stop illegal and unlicensed massage parlours from renting units. The police has been intensifying enforcement checks in the wake of the new Massage Establishments Act, which came into force on March 1. The police detected 40 per cent more unlicensed massage establishments between and There were nearly such operators found in , with 40 per cent engaging in vice-related offences.
Repeat offenders could have their penalties doubled or more: Landlords must now also take reasonable steps to get such errant tenants to hand over the premises within a month, or face penalties. The police said firm action will be taken against the operators for flouting regulations and they take "a serious view of anyone found breaking the law".
In , ST reported how the mall had fallen out of favour with the youth with many stores displaying "For Lease" signs. A masseuse from a reflexology outlet who gave her name as Ms Elaine, 48, said: Clients come in and ask me for specials. We turn them away. A new association has been formed with ambitious plans to clean up the massage and spa scene in Singapore. The Spa Professionals Association of Singapore, which registered as a society with the Ministry of Home Affairs on May 2, plans to introduce an appraisal system for Category I therapists to "weed out bad eggs".