Thursday, June 9, 2011

Burmese authorities order massage parlours closed; karaoke next?

Thursday, 09 June 2011 12:41 Mizzima News

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – In what may be the first move to clean up Burma’s male entertainment industry, the Rangoon authorities have ordered all massage parlours to close in major cities, according to the 7 Day News Journal.

The order was said to go into effect on June 2. The Rangoon area has between 3,000 to 3,500 illegal massage parlours, a senior police officer at the Rangoon Region Police Commander’s Office told Mizzima in early 2010.

‘Later, authorities will look at the KTV karaoke lounge bars’, the Rangoon based weekly journal reported.

The Rangoon Region Administrative office issued the order to close massage parlours on May 27. The order also said that all restaurants and teashops in Rangoon must close by 11 p.m, sources said.

Observers said that periodic crackdowns are opportunities for corrupt officials to wring money from illegal and borderline businesses, which after a period of time will reopen.

Sources said that most of the massage parlours in Rangoon, Mandalay, Naypyitaw and other major towns in Burma are involved in prostitution.

Prostitution is illegal in Burma and if the accused is found guilty, they can be sentenced from one to five years in prison.

Depending on the massage parlour, ward and township authorities, police and Military Affairs Security units may take monthly protection money and ‘taxes’ from the parlours.

During any crackdown period, the owners of illegal lottery businesses also worry about their business.

‘Nowadays, many two-digit and three-digit illegal lottery dealers are scared in our ward’, said a resident in Rangoon. Normally, illegal lottery vendors pay bribes to the authorities if caught.

A banker in Mandalay said that early this month the police warned him that there would be a crackdown on gambling.

‘They told me that if I was involved in gambling, they would arrest me, that their superior officials were putting them under pressure’, he said.

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