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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Stripping off layer of red tape

Staff attire at the Bikini Bar on Sentosa Island
Cutting through red tape has never been this sexy.  For years, nightlife and entertainment companies like Emerald Hill Group had to work around strict rules on what their staff could wear.

Waitresses and entertainers at establishments such as pubs and bars had to abide by prohibitions on attire set out in public entertainment licence.

For instance, the licence had stated that employees and entertainers could not be “scantily attired or dressed in swimsuit, bikini or bunny costume or any costume which is transparent”.  This archaic rule had prevented theme bars like Bikini Bar on Sentosa Island from flourishing.

The rules were clearly out of date.  Customers were more skimpily clad than the waitresses, and if you walked around Orchard Road, some of the girls were even more scantily clad.

The police in charge of these licences refused to budge and said it was the law.  It was all quite frustrating.
That was in 2004.  But by 2006, the introduction of the Pro-Enterprise Panel (PEP), an official feedback channel for businesses to seek intervention or improvement.

The PEP is a unit under the Ministry of Trade and Industry, chaired by the head of civil service.  Members of the PEP comprise both the civil servants and businessmen.

Within a few months, the PEP worked with the police to review the rules and by 2007, they had been tweaked.  Now waitresses are allowed to wear bikinis although they still cannot wear clothes that are too revealing.

However, the police even provided a drawn illustration in the licence rules of which body parts had to be covered.  Waitresses at the Bikini Bar now wear bikini tops and shorts, fitting theme of the beachfront bar.

I think the rule lift makes all our lives a lot easier.  It is a simple change and our tourism industry benefit as a whole.

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