MIRI: Young men, including college and university students, have found themselves caught in a web of vice after being lured by the "special services" offered by massage parlours that have mushroomed throughout the state.
Some of these so-called body and foot massage centres here are accepting young men in their late teens and early 20s as customers, and the masseuses serving these clients are very young, mainly from China.
Concerned parents told The Star yesterday that they have heard of cases of college and university students frequenting these centres daily after getting "hooked'' on the "extra services" these centres offered.
These youths are among many men who are making a beeline for the more than 100 massage parlours that have sprouted up here.
Dr Umah Devi, the chairman of the Miri Tunas Bakti Institution (a rehabilitation institution for troubled children and youths), said it was anyone's guess what actually was happening in some of these massage centres.
"It doesn't take a genius to realise that young healthy men in their late teens and early 20s don't need regular body or foot massages.
"It is also obvious that young women in their early 20s are usually not experienced in giving body massages because most expert body and foot masseuses are older people, many of whom are in the 'pakcik and makcik' age-bracket," she said yesterday.
Dr Umah wondered why these centres hired only young, sexy and beautiful foreign girls as masseuses.
"It is a fact that blind people are among the best masseurs or masseuses. So, why are these centres not hiring professionally-trained masseurs like the blind or experienced tukang urut from the villages?
"Why only sexy masseuses dressed in skimpy mini-skirts and revealing dresses? And why do these massage centres have small cubicles where clients are given one-on-one service?"
Dr Umah, a former Miri Hospital director, said the move by the Miri City Council to freeze new licences for massage parlours and foot reflexology centres, "though good, was not enough".
"There must be very strict by-laws on the age of customers seeking services in these centres. At the moment, there is no age limit. There is also no dress code for masseuses and a masseuse needs no qualification.
"Any so-called massage centre can simply hire any woman and say she is a masseuse," she said.
Miri Mayor Lawrence Lai admitted that even though the council had issued only 37 licences for massage centres, there are more than 100 all over the city and in the outskirts.