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Friday November 4, 2011

Too many massage centres worry Desa Sri Hartamas folk

THE mushrooming of massage, foot reflexology and spa centres around Desa Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur, has not gone down well with the residents in the township.

There are over 30 massage and foot reflexology centres in the area, however, a check with Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) revealed that only 10 outlets, or one-third of the total had been issued licence to operate while the rest are deemed illegal.

DBKL deputy director-general of socio-economic development Datuk Mohd Amin Nordin Abdul Aziz confirmed that only 10 outlets were licensed to offer foot reflexology, massage and spas in the Desa Sri Hartamas.

Large signs: Some outlets offer special prices during lunch break

Amin said DBKL had stopped approving licences under the Health Establishment Licensing Bylaw WPKL 2003 for massage and relexology centres since 2009 to curb the sudden increase in the number of such centres in Kuala Lumpur.

“We have not issued any licences since July 2009. We will not approve any applications as there are already too many in Kuala Lumpur. Even if people apply we will reject their applications,” he said.

When asked about what action will be taken against these illegal centres, Amin said they would continue issuing compounds to those who operated without licences.

“In the city, there are already too many of these massage centres. We cannot force them to stop their operations but we can only compound them for not having a licence as many of them operate without licences and if they still continue to operate we can bring them to court.

“However, these operators are very stubborn as some of them still continue to operate. They are not afraid of us.

Many signs: The numerous signboards along the walkway.

“Many of them have been fined several times but they still continue to operate without licences. We will have to continue with our raids more regularly,” he said, adding that DBKL carried out raids twice a week to check on these premises around Kuala Lumpur.

“We try to monitor these centres including those with licences. We have done raids with the police to try to stop these massage centres that offer sexual services.

“We have to do this to ensure that they do not misuse their licences for vice activities. If the licensed centres are found offering sexual services, we can compound them or take their deposit and even revoke their licence,” he said.

However, Amin said based on investigations carried out from early this year up to September, no licensed premises had been found to be offering sexual services.

“Consumers also have to be aware of a massage centre’s condition and surroundings.

In the backlanes too: There are about 30 massage and foot reflexology centres operating in Desa Sri Hartamas.

“Do not visit a suspicious-looking centre,” he said, adding that consumers should be able to differentiate illegal and licensed centres as licensed centres were required to display their premises licence to prove that they were operating legally.

Brickfields OCPD Asst Comm Wan Abdul Bari Wan Abdul Khalid said the police would carry out spot checks on centres offering sexual services.

“If the public has any complaints about centres they suspect were operating without licence, they can report to us and we will conduct checks and take action,” he said.

A Desa Sri Hartamas resident who only wanted to be known as Cheong, said he noticed a sudden increase in the number of massage, foot reflexology and spa centres operating in the township.

“I love living here, it’s a peaceful community with a pleasant environment but now more and more massage centres have set up business here,” said Cheong, who has lived in the area for the past five years.

Promotions: All sorts of discounts.

“It is absurd to have so many massage centres concentrated in just a small area. There are more than 30 such centres here now,” he said.

Cheong said he and many other residents were concerned about this phenomenon in their area because they had reason to believe that some of the massage centres also offered sexual services.

“I was informed that some of these centres offer sexual services instead of just the normal hand, foot or body massage. This is very disturbing.

“I know this from friends who patronise these centres. I fear the negative impact such activities might bring to this township. These outlets are so close to our homes,” he said.

Cheong said DBKL and the police should conduct a survey and check the legality of these centres or conduct raids to prevent vice activities.

“Some parents also fear that the proximity of these centres to their homes would provide their children with easy access to vice activities as the centres are located amid family restaurants, convenience stores and other businesses,” said Cheong, who has contacted Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng to inform him about the issue.

Lim confirmed that he was aware of the problem and would be bringing up the matter with the KL mayor.

A random check by StarMetro found about 30 massage centres, spas and foot reflexology centres operating in Desa Sri Hartamas.

Many of the foot reflexology centres have banners placed outside their outlets stating the price of the various services offered.

A foot massage costs between RM20 and RM40 while a body massage is from RM50 to RM70.

Most of the centres are located in Jalan 23/70a, 24/70a, 28/70a, 30/70a and 31/70a.

The interior of some of the massage parlours we visited were dimly lit and the cubicles were partitioned with curtains or other impermanent structure to offer customers privacy.

A cubicle normally contains nothing but a small mattress and dim lights.

Then there are centres with scantily dressed female staff compared with those which provide their employees with uniforms.

To evade the authorities, all these centres are equipped with closed-circuit television (CCTVs) at the entrance to the lift area, corridors and to the main door.

Some of these centres have even employed individuals who lurk outside these centres to warn the operators in case of raids by the authorities.

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