SINGAPORE - Police have arrested 17 men who are suspected of being members of unlawful societies during islandwide raids over the past four weeks.
The men, aged between 15 and 57, were among 543 persons the police conducted checks on in a series of operations at nightlife establishments between Aug 20 and Sept 12, the police said in a statement on Thursday (Sept 16).
Four food and beverage outlets - Beer Belly Lok Lok Bar in Tai Seng, Chips Cafe and Pub in Cuscaden Road, Ocean Star Bar & Grill, and Oh My Bistro in Yio Chu Kang Road - were also found to have breached safe management measures.
The operations were carried out by police officers, including those from the Criminal Investigation Department's Secret Societies Branch, together with safe distancing enforcement officers from several government agencies.
Investigations against the 17 men who were arrested are ongoing.
The statement said: "The police have zero tolerance towards secret society activities and will not hesitate to take strong actions, including invoking the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act that provides for detention without trial, against anyone involved in secret society and criminal activities that threatens the public safety, peace and good order.
"Members of the public are advised to steer clear of secret society activities and to report those engaging in such unlawful activities to the police immediately."
Anyone found guilty of being a member of an unlawful society can be fined up to $5,000, jailed up to three years, or face both penalties.
Those guilty of not complying with safe management measures can be punished with fines of up to $10,000, imprisonment up to six months, or both penalties.
The Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment had announced on Aug 27 that Beer Belly Lok Lok Bar and Chips Cafe and Bar were among several establishments found to have violated safe distancing rules.
Both were ordered to close for 20 days.
Beer Belly Lok Lok Bar was found to have allowed the sale or consumption of alcohol after 10.30pm and played music, while Chips Cafe and Bar, a repeat offender, had failed to ensure safe distancing of at least 1m between seated customers.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.