Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Harassed Golden Mile tenants avoid toilets plagued by 'lurkers and gropers'

New Paper
28 July 2009


Harassed Golden Mile tenants avoid toilets plagued by 'lurkers and gropers'

FOR the last two years, he has been afraid of using the toilets outside his office.

By Pearly Tan

Instead, Mr Tan (not his real name) walks some 100m to use the toilet at a petrol kiosk.

Why? Because he is convinced that some of the male toilets at his office, in Golden Mile Complex, are being used for homosexual acts.

The 28-year-old did not want to be identified because he is afraid of repercussions.

Said Mr Tan: 'I don't dare to use the toilets. Having to go out of the building to use the toilet is better than being sexually harassed.'

The businessman said he has been propositioned and even flashed at in the toilets, which are located on the second and third storeys of Golden Mile.

And the proposition he received came through a hole in the wall between toilet cubicles - a 'gloryhole' in sexual slang.

VANDALISM: Partition hole that was glued shut and then ripped open.

These are holes used by perverts for peeping or for sexual activity.

When male reporters visited the toilets, the team found holes in the cubicles on both the second and third floors.

There were none on the first floor, probably because the partition walls are made of metal.

But on the higher floors, holes, one the size of a doorknob, at waist height, have been cut through the chipboard material.

Filthy loos

The toilets were also filthy.

Internet videos have surfaced, allegedly showing sex acts taking place through these holes in these cubicles.

They appear to have been taken in these toilets.

Online invitations are also issued for encounters in these toilets.

Said Mr Tan: 'In February this year, I was in the second last cubicle on the third floor at about noon when I heard a knock on the partition.

'A finger came through the hole and gestured. I just ignored it.'

Mr Tan said he has seen local and foreign men loitering in the toilets. According to him, their ages vary widely. Some are in their 20s while others are older 'ah peks'.

He said: 'Some are uncles who are really sloppy and walk around in shorts, T-shirts and slippers.

'Younger ones come in office wear and look like they took off from work.'

He recalled an incident last year. 'I was washing my hands and this man in his 30s wearing a striped shirt and office pants kept watching me.'

BEWARE: Men are often seen loitering near the male toilets, eyeing the users.

Mr Tan said the man then suddenly ran into a cubicle and performed crude acts while watching his reflection in the mirror.

Stunned and scared, Mr Tan said he ran out, but the man gave chase.

'He followed me all the way to the escalator before he turned to go back to the toilet,' he claimed.

The men often hang around in the toilet, trying to make eye contact with those they target.

They walk around the toilet areas on both levels and sometimes even around the office units, said Mr Tan.

'They look up and down at you and watch you if you're going to the toilet.

'Usually the last two cubicles are occupied for hours. If you use the cubicle next to it, you can tell from their feet's position that they're facing the partition.'

WHAT'S GOING ON?: Some occupy the same cubicle for hours

One of the holes appeared to have been previously glued shut, before it was forced open again, as dried glue remain around the hole.

Said a woman in her 60s, who gave her name only as Madam Tong: 'The place is full of ah kuas (Hokkien for homosexuals) just walking around every weekend.

'On the eve of public holidays, the whole place looks sleazy.'

She goes there every day to collect soft drink cans to sell.

Mr Tan, who has worked at Golden Mile Complex for five years, said the problem began only in 2007, when the second and third storey toilets were renovated.

'After the renovation, the partitions were changed from metal sheets to chipboard.

'That's when the holes started appearing. Nowadays, the toilet is disgustingly filthy.'

The New Paper spoke to a man, who identified himself only as Leonnie. He said he has used the cubicles several times.

Asked if he was worried about contracting diseases, he said: 'I don't need to know who's on the other side. Diseases are not an issue to me.'

Miss Germaine Chong, 28, often visits her boyfriend who works in a company in Golden Mile Complex.

She said: 'I used to tell my boyfriend to be careful when he goes to the toilet but now he knows better.

Avoid toilets

'He was groped in the toilet two months ago and now he won't use the toilets there.'

Despite the hazards, Mr Tan said that he has no plans to move his company out of the building.

'It's a family business and it's close to the places we need to access frequently. I think I'll just ignore what's going on and do my job,' said Mr Tan.

When The New Paper visited the toilets on 15 Jul, we noticed that one of the covered holes had been pried open.

Instructions had been scribbled on one of the wooden partitions.

GROSS: Obscene proposals are scribbled in this third-storey loo.

On the opposite partition, one could see the next cubicle through a hole.

One person occupied the dimly-lit cubicle next door.

Strangely, the man sat in that cubicle for more than two hours.

Another tenant, who gave his name only as Mr Lee, said that he does not walk about the complex unless necessary.

'I hate it that the men are around all day and they look at you like prey to be eaten. The men who visit those holes are sick,' said the 53-year-old.

The management of Golden Mile Complex, Management Corporation Strata Title 446, declined comment.

The New Paper contacted lawyer Foo Cheow Ming, 45, of KhattarWong for comment on the legal issues involved.

'Assuming it's between two consenting adults, without threat or money involved, it's in violation of 377A Penal Code,' he said.

Under the act, any man who, in public or private, commits any act of gross indecency with another man, can be imprisoned for up to 2 years.

Mr Shashi Nathan, head of criminal litigation at Harry Elias, said: 'The minute sexual acts move into the public sphere, it's about public indecency.

'It's still a public place, although behind doors.

'The issue here is not the gender of the people involved. The police will also need to consider other issues such as age, consent and whether there is any exchange of money.'

additional reporting by Naveen Kanagalingam