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Message Board > Cruising for Sex: Asia > Southeast Asia   Heads Up for Sauna Cruisers going to Penang--Raids and arrests at three Penang saunas

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  #1  
Old 6th November 2007, 07:34 PM
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Heads Up for Sauna Cruisers going to Penang--Raids and arrests at three Penang saunas

November 6, 2007
penang police arrest 37 men at ''sex party''
By News Editor (Fridae)

Thirty-seven men including three workers have been arrested on Sunday night at a fitness centre-cum-sauna in northern Malaysian island of Penang.

According to media reports, the 37 men were arrested at a fitness centre-cum-sauna whilst a “sex party” was in progress.

Photos of the arrest were published in various mainstream newspapers and news web sites.
Apart from a Briton and a Chinese national, all of the other men are ethnic Chinese Malaysians. The men are believed to be between 20 and 45.

Local police chief Azam Abdul Hamid told the media on Tuesday that his team found numerous used condoms, seven tubes of lubrication jelly, 20 gay magazines, four pornographic VCDs and six boxes of condoms on the premises.

He said the raid was part of the force’s ongoing operation codenamed Ops Bersih (meaning Operation Clean) aimed at keeping all types of vice activities in check.

Following the raid at about 7.30pm, the men were taken to the Patani Road police station and had their statements taken before they were released.

Azam was quoted by the The Associated Press as saying: "Based on our information, the center was regularly used for these gay activities.”

"This is against our culture, our way of life."

Under Section 377 of the Malaysian Penal Code which prohibits heterosexual and homosexual sodomy, the men may face jail terms up to 20 years in prison and whipping if convicted. Section 337A more narrowly prohibits acts of "gross indecency with another male person" with punishment including up to two years in prison.

On April 3, police raided two similar establishments located in a shopping complex and picked up more than 30 men.

The third-largest economy amongst the states of Malaysia, after Selangor and Johor, Penang is highly industrialised with manufacturing plants such as Dell, Intel and Motorola.
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  #2  
Old 9th November 2007, 04:46 AM
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Penang arrests

It would be interesting to learn the disposition of the prior (April '07) arrests. If anyone knows I'm sure the subscribers would appreciate a report.
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  #3  
Old 11th November 2007, 06:03 AM
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Question Which sauna is it ?

I have seen a photo on another gay website , but the entrance area is not familiar to me. Not LEO , not M World , not Up 2 U .
It has a quite large lobby area .

Anyone knows ? Tao Boxer ?
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  #4  
Old 11th November 2007, 06:29 AM
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It was G-Word at Tanjung Bungah. I've never been there though I live just twenty minutes away but I saw the report from a Yahoo group for gay Penang guys that I belong to.

Incidentally, it's been so long since I went to a sauna anywhere in the world that I didn't even know about the other two you mentioned other than Leo's - Up2U and MWorld, was it? Mind PM-ing me with their location?
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  #5  
Old 12th November 2007, 12:42 AM
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A bad omen?

I wonder if this police chief's attitudes represent a future direction for Penang officialdom. Or is it just a temporary blip linked to an especially odious bigot?
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  #6  
Old 12th November 2007, 03:48 AM
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Not M , maybe G

Dear Tao Boxer ,

Thank you very much for such a quick reply .

I maybe mixed up M with G .
That sauna is located PRIMA TANJUN shopping complex .
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  #7  
Old 14th November 2007, 03:24 AM
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GWord's the one at Prima Tanjung. So where's Up2U? I've never even heard of this one.
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  #8  
Old 14th November 2007, 05:45 AM
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U know there are many shop house blocks behind PENANG MEGA MALL ?
It is located one of them .
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  #9  
Old 14th November 2007, 04:53 PM
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There's a Megamall on Penang Island? That's really news to me. You're not refering to Prangin Mall are you? The only Megamall I know is the one in Butterworth.
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Old 15th November 2007, 07:21 AM
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5 5 5 . U want 2 play with me ?
It's not located in the island , but it's located in the state of Penang .
All local call it MEGA MALL PENANG .

Megamall Penang. Address. Seberang Perai. Penang, Malaysia ...

Mega mall Pinang
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  #11  
Old 16th November 2007, 03:12 AM
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Sorry if I rubbed you the wrong way...quite honestly, I have always referred to the place as Megamall and I never thought to find out if it had a fuller name than that. As for playing....mmm...only if you're prepared for really evil, kinky stuff!
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  #12  
Old 26th November 2007, 08:44 AM
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heads-up....article for Malaysia:


November 22, 2007
no sex party going on at penang fitness centre, say those arrested
By SH Lim

Following the recent raid of a fitness centre in Penang where 37 men were arrested, it has emerged that contrary to media reports, there was no “sex party” in progress when police raided the establishment. SH Lim gives readers an insight of the case and how the community has responded.

“I did nothing wrong,” Eric Goh wrote to PT Foundation, a community-based organisation providing HIV/AIDS education and sexuality awareness and empowerment programmes, in Malaysia. Goh is one of the 37 - 35 Malaysians and two non-nationals – who was detained by the Malaysian police for two days.

A photo of the arrest that was published in The Star.
“Acting on a public tip-off,” the police on Sunday, Nov 4, at about 7.30pm, raided G-Word Fitness Centre, in Penang the Associated Press reported. In the same article, it said that the police informed that it found “used condoms strewn all over the floor, seven tubes of lubrication jelly, 20 gay magazines, four pornographic VCDs and six boxes of new condoms.” George Town Officer in Charge of Police District (OCPD) Asst Comm Azam Abd Hamid was quoted as saying that at the time of the raid “a sex party was in progress.”

But not so according to Goh and some others.

“We were fully dressed when the police came in,” Goh said in an email to the PLUPenang newslist that he and his UK friend were there for a quick workout before meeting his family for dinner but instead ended in the lockup “for two unforgettable humiliating and tragic nights.” The detainees were released after signing a bond. Although the case is not closed at the time of publishing this article, observers say those arrested are unlikely to be charged.

One detainee informed that he and the others were sent to a lock-up, then to court before a magistrate and remanded for two days. “We were all put in handcuffs and chains like criminals,” he said. Other detainees told of similar experiences.

“What we went through was beyond words. The humiliation, the verbal insults, striping to our underwear in a dirty and cold cell full of graffiti and bugs; shit and shower in the same place; handcuffed and chained even when we went to the toilet and while eating. Those with high blood pressure and diabetic problems were without medication for 48 hours,” Goh added.

Help from the Community
Throughout this ordeal, some organisations and individuals stepped up to the plate working round the clock to help. PT Foundation was in contact with the Legal Aid Centre in Kuala Lumpur, and with people from PLUPenang. Darryl, P.H. Yap and Bern Chua contacted friends in Penang to find a lawyer to represent the detainees. Yap and Chua spent full days at the station and in the magistrates’ court, liaising between those detained and the lawyer. P. H. Yap and his friends bought food and refreshments – reportedly paid for by the owner of G-Word - for the detainees.

“I am sure many others lend a helping hand. I am very encouraged by their actions, and wish to thank them for their selfless community spirit,” said Raymond Tai, Head of MSM Programme, PT Foundation.

Why the Raid?
A local newspaper, The Star, owned by the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), a national political party, quoted the police as saying that the raid was part of its ongoing “Ops Bersih (operation clean) aimed at keeping all types of vice activities in check.”

Other reasons have however been posited. According to some people, the rather “harsh” treatment arose because the owner of G-Word Fitness Centre was not around and was not contactable during the raid. It was speculated that things might have turned out quite differently if the owner was there to smooth things over with the police.

Shanon Shah of Amnesty International Malaysia pointed out that “raids like this don't happen in isolation. One raid leads to another, and it's usually a political tactic to divert the people from more pressing issues of concern. The thing is, we have to keep an eye out.”

The case is being closely watched by the gay community as well as local and international human rights organisations.

The Penal Code
Section 377 of Malaysia’s Penal Code, which prohibits "carnal intercourse against the order of nature” and acts of “gross indecency,” hangs like the proverbial sword of Damocles over the heads of gay men. Although the laws do not explicitly mention homosexuality or homosexual acts (after being amended in 1989 to be gender neutral), the laws are available as a tool to intimidate, harass, extort and exploit gay men and gay-friendly businesses. The attendant publicity – the potential outing – is that very thing which makes gay men vulnerable. The press too is not ashamed to exploit this vulnerability selling itself with sensational news.

There are no known cases of the laws being used against consenting adults, gay or straight, except in the controversial case of former Malaysian DPM Anwar Ibrahim who was convicted in 2000 for sodomy. The conviction was later reversed in 2004.

The Malaysian government’s approach to Penal Code 377 is no different from the Singapore government’s application of Section 377A of the Penal Code. Both governments continue to perpetuate prejudice and execute a law that unjustly discriminates and leaves a segment of the population vulnerable to exploitation. The Singapore government, after an open debate, has nonetheless proudly and publicly declared that anal intercourse between heterosexual couples is legal but not so for gay men. The Malaysian government says nothing but continues to invoke that code when dealing with gay men’s sexuality.

In the context of AIDS prevention and outreach programmes, Raymond Tai of PT Foundation said: “This draconian Penal Code 377 continues to allow the authorities to drive gay-friendly saunas underground, operating as 'fitness centres,' 'spas,' etc. This in turn encourages extortions by enforcement officers and poses a big challenge for us at PTF to do safer sex outreach to these places.” PTF’s current recourse is to engage in closed-door discussions with government and enforcement officers so that PTF is able to take small practical steps to keep its community protected.

What Needs to be Done
Anal intercourse between consenting adults regardless of their sexual orientation must be decriminalised. Simply because the law is inhumane and unjust. There is no longer any justification for the discrimination of gay people and the criminalisation of the anal intercourse. With decriminalisation, the gay community would be less vulnerable to unreasonable searches and raids.

In the mean time, gay-focused and human rights organisations within and without country - PT Foundation, Suaram, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, women’s groups and others – will need to engage with the civil society to widen the democratic space for Malaysians, where there is real respect for equality in a diverse society. Malaysians need to be educated more about their civil liberties and mobilised to stand up and speak out against discrimination of minorities. The socio-political climate needs to change before taking on Section 377.

At present, the local gay organisations lack a locally based organised response mechanism to manage situations like the raid on G-Word. PT Foundation advocates for more grassroots-based organisation to mobilise and is offering to train interested groups and volunteers in basic human rights, arrests and detention issues so that they can assist should more raids occur.

PT Foundation is seeking the Legal Aid Centre's advice on this matter, and encourage all those who are concerned to write in. PFT is also offering para-legal training to those who wish to volunteer their services, hiring staff and seeking volunteers for a number of programmes they are running, for details please check the web site and/or email ptf@ptfmalaysia.org.
//
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  #13  
Old 26th November 2007, 07:04 PM
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-- If not 'The Star.' 'paper. then those responsible for spreading what appear to be false allegations should be sued.
- One might hope that some pro bono att'ys. will be approached and asked to look farther into this with a view to seeking action through the Courts.
-- bibi. --
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  #14  
Old 4th December 2007, 07:04 PM
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Just chatted to a gay guy from Penang on Yahoo Messenger, and he said this is an on-going campaign (called Operasi Bersih) "Operation Clean", to get rid of the gay places in Penang. Anyone confirm this?

I'm pissed off about it, as I'm going to Penang for six days in December, and was hoping, for the first time, to check out the saunas there . . . . .
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