4. AFRO News Reading
The 30-year-old man was back at the scene on Argyle Street in Mong Kok on Tuesday when he spoke to the Post on condition of anonymity about the police raid that netted nearly 100 suspected sex workers operating out of individual cubicles carved out of subdivided flats.
He said he had ended up at the 14-storey King Hing Building out of curiosity “as a single man” at around 8pm on Monday night.
“My Chinese friend told me: ‘You want to find girls? This place has a lot of girls; if you want to do it, it’s the place to go’,” he said. After knocking on one door after another on several floors and asking for a price, he found “the one”.
“I went up and down and then I found an attractive girl. She was from Thailand,” he said, standing in one of the corridors. “We didn’t get very far and then things started happening.”
A screen in the room showing security footage of the corridor outside suddenly blacked out, he recalled, and they heard people yelling in Cantonese, along with loud banging noises.
That “must have been sledgehammers going through the doors”, he said. “It was pretty intense. She told me it was people fighting. I didn’t know what was happening until the police came in.”
A police officer barged into the room, asking the man if he had had sex with the woman, which he denied. After inspecting his passport, the officer had told him to “get out of there before he changed his mind”.
The man said he was supposed to pay HK$400 (US$51) upfront to the woman, which he did not, and had no idea what had happened to her after he left.
Almost all floors of the building were left empty on Tuesday, while some doors with fluorescent pink lights adorning their frames had been broken down.
An advertisement outside one door showed a picture of a scantily clad Asian woman, with the words: “[HK$]450, different uniforms available.”
Another poster said: “New foreign girls. Real Russians. Great service.”
Investigators said at least two 14K triad-linked prostitution syndicates had arranged for the 99 suspects to work and provide sex services in the “one-woman” brothels.
With the help of immigration officers on Monday night, police detained 17 Russians, seven Thai transgender women, two women from Ukraine, one from Kazakhstan, 13 from Thailand and 59 female visitors from the mainland, the force said.
There were three to five flats on every floor, with some subdivided into five cubicles, some as large as 70 sq ft with attached toilets. In one dimly lit room, a pack of unused condoms and a tube of lubricant lay on the table.
Why was the man – who said he regretted entering the building on Monday night – there for a second day? To collect his watch, which he had left behind in the brothel, he said. The room was padlocked.
Recently, police have been sweeping buildings with many operating one-sex worker apartments. Many sex workers who hold tourist visas have been arrested.
We have also received inquiries regarding the legality of “one-sex worker apartments”.
According to the laws, a sex worker (with valid H.K.I.D. card, condition of stay not limited) operating in a single apartment is NOT prohibited. However, it would be illegal for more than one sex workers to operate in a single apartment.
Cap. 200 Crimes Ordinance──
Section.139 Keeping a vice establishment
- A person who on any occasion –
- keeps any premises, vessel or place as a vice establishment; or
- manages or assists in the management, or is otherwise in charge or control, of any premises, vessel or place kept as a vice establishment,
shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable –
- on summary conviction to imprisonment for 3 years; or
- on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for 10 years.
When a particular premises is reasonably suspected as a vice establishment, the police will determine if it is “kept”, “managed” or ”assisted to manage” and make arrests accordingly. Although the charge is “Keeping a Vice Establishment”, a person ”manages” or “assists to manage” a vice establishment is also likely to be prosecuted.
Also, most people arrested in these operations have been people holding Two-Way Permits.
According to immigration laws, any person staying in Hong Kong with a Two-Way Permit is prohibited from any paid or unpaid work. Arrested persons might be immediately repatriated or imprisoned; the maximum penalty for such offense is a fine of $50,000 and 2 years imprisonment.
Cap 115 Immigration Ordinance
Section 41 Breach of Condition of Stay
Under Cap 115A Immigration Regulations Section 2(1)
(1) Permission given to a person to land in Hong Kong as a visitor shall be subject to the following conditions of stay-
(a) he shall not take any employment, whether paid or unpaid;
(b) he shall not establish or join in any business; and
(c) he shall not become a student at a school, university or other educational institution.
Any person who obtained an employment visa for Hong Kong could only take up the employment or join in the business approved by the Immigration.
Holders of visitor or double entry visa are not allowed to take up any employment, including unpaid work. Any persons violated their conditions of stay will, upon arrest, be liable to immediate repatriation or imprisonment; a maximum fine of HK$50,000 and imprisonment for two years.
The Police and Immigration officers regularly conduct joint decoy operations in different establishments, arresting illegal sex workers. Sex workers are reminded that criminal records are permanent and would not be deleted after periods of absence from Hong Kong. Criminal records can have massive implication on employment and immigration so sex workers are advised to stay away from crime.