Over the last days there’s a lot of news in #Singapore about new Covid cases linked to KTVs. Now there are many family karaoke lounges but the more obscure version is deeply embedded in Singaporean Chinese business culture and is basically a sex club where business partners bring their business relations to enjoy drinks in the company of often young and illegal women.
Containing the covid clusters related to these cases is hard, because of the very nature of the business; neither the business owners, nor the patrons or the staff want to be too open about having been present…
All this sparked a lot of discussion online so what’s at the core of the debate?
Paying for or getting paid for sex is not a shame as long is it is a fair and honest transaction. That’s the thing: in KTVs it often is not; it’s shady, workers are often here illegally, pay and working conditions are poor and for most staff this really is not their preferred career. No doubt there will be entrepreneurs that run a proper business but many do not and don’t take employee welfare and regulations very serious.
The second point runs deeper. In Singaporean Chinese local businesses the practise of entertaining customers and relations in a KTV is still customary. However, after the #metoo movement it should be questioned if this is considered a sound, sustainable and ethical part of doing business and related to that: should the government, employees and business federations take steps to eradicate it?
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Fixer, traveller, writer and founder of TheNeighbour