The sex trade in Penang is booming, with a significant increase of foreign sex workers compared to last year.
Penang Immigration Department Chief Basri Othman said that the number of prostitutes who entered the island has risen to 536 this year.
“Most foreigners who enter Malaysia with social visit or student passes end up working in places like night clubs, karaoke lounges, hotels and massage parlors,” Mr Othman said.
“Many illegal gangs are involved in this sex trade,” he said.
According to Mr Othman, a lot of shops are built with secret passage ways to avoid prostitutes getting caught and to allow patrons to come in and out discreetly.
There are at least 200 hot spots offering sex services in Penang and many are found in Upper Penang Road, Chulia Street, Muntri Street, Love Lane and Batu Feringgi.
Recent trend has also shown that there is a high demand for prostitutes particularly from Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand and China.
Dung, one of the pimps who looks after a group of prostitutes, said that she brings a few Vietnamese girls into Penang every six months.
“To satisfy my customers’ needs, I also put the girls through language courses so that they can communicate better before they arrive,” Ms Dung said.
Because Vietnamese girls are popular, Dung charges between RM200 to RM1,600 for one session.
Mr Othman added that those caught prostituting or pimping will be charged under Section 372(B) of the Penal Code, which carries a maximum jail term of one year or a fine, or both.