PETALING JAYA: A former hotel security head has warned Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar against ignoring how “big a problem” prostitution is in the country.
Recently, Khalid acknowledged that prostitution existed in Malaysia but added that authorities had been able to contain it.
JK Associates principal consultant Khen Han Ming said his experience as a hotel security director from 2012 to 2016 had brought him up-close to the prostitution trade in the country and he claimed it was a bigger problem than the IGP thought.
“We have basically two scenarios,” he told FMT. “Forced prostitution and freelancers.”
“Forced prostitution is what you mostly see in streets such as Bukit Bintang, Lorong Haji Taib, and Chow Kit Road where prostitution is run from shop houses or cheap hotels modified into brothels.
“Then you have freelancers who are foreigners who come on social visits and don’t have pimps or agents. They cater to the ‘upscale market’ and operate around Jalan P Ramlee, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Jalan Ampang and of course Bukit Bintang. Basically, anywhere near luxury hotels.”
He said it was important for police to address forced prostitution in the country as there were numerous other crimes tied to it including human trafficking.
“Forced prostitution involves foreigners who are smuggled into the country. Nowadays, they travel with valid documents and are on social visit passes but have either overstayed or are brought in and out of the country by syndicate operatives.”
Khen claimed that some of those involved in “smuggling” prostitutes included hotel operators, food operators and taxi drivers.
“Usually, these are the ones working closely with human trafficking,” he claimed.
He said apart from human trafficking, forced prostitution also meant the possibility of minors being forced into prostitution, undocumented foreigners, as well as the spread of disease and drugs.
“Drugs are used in forced prostitution so that the girls will last longer and will be able to serve multiple customers. Also, drugs cause them to hallucinate and avoid escaping.
“So when talking about prostitution, it’s not just about moral issues alone, although, I am sure, most Malaysians want to pretend that prostitution doesn’t exist because of religious sensitivities. But there is a bigger picture that we need to look at.”
He said the long term effect on these girls who were forced into prostitution was that they would suffer from trauma and addiction.
“Some of these girls have not seen daylight for a long time and may not even know what’s happened to them.”
Khen said he had worked as a hotel security head in two of the “top hotel brands” in Kuala Lumpur but refused to reveal which brands.
During this period, he said, he found that authorities rarely conducted raids on luxury hotels.
The China Press recently reported that Johor Bahru had earned a reputation as a red light area, thanks to the many elderly men from Singapore who headed there for the services of prostitutes from Vietnam and China.
Khalid appeared skeptical of the report, saying there should be little reason for Singaporeans to look for prostitutes in Malaysia as prostitution was legal in their country.
PPBM Youth chief Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, however, accused Khalid of making light of the report, adding that the police chief should not have been too hasty with his response.