Published: 19 March 2018
Mr Yee Chia Hsing: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs whether extended operating hours beyond 10.30pm can be allowed for low vice risk exempt massage establishments at which massage or foot reflexology services are administered in full view of the public.
1. Mr Speaker, "open-concept" massage establishments (ME) provide massage services in full view of the public. They are exempted from the need to apply for a ME licence.
2. At the reading of the Massage Establishment Bill in November last year, several MPs had cautioned that "low-risk activities" that are not required to obtain a ME licence could nevertheless be fronts for vice activities.
3. Indeed, while open-concept MEs operate in full-view of the public, they can offer any kind of massage to adult customers. This is why even though open-concept MEs are exempted from licensing, they have to adhere to a number of conditions. This is to prevent them from being used as fronts for vice, as pointed out by Members of this House. These conditions include ensuring that there are no rooms, partitions, or cubicles within the premises that allow massage services to be provided in private; not obscuring any windows and entrances; and operating only from 7am to 10.30pm daily.
4. If the operator of an open-concept ME wishes to deviate from any of these conditions, the risk associated with the establishment becomes higher. The operator is thus required to apply for a licence instead.
5. Therefore, should an operator of an exempted open-concept ME wish to operate beyond the stipulated hours, they should apply for a Category I ME licence and request for extended operating hours. Police will assess these requests on a case-by-case basis.