High-ranking lieutenant-colonel in SAF by day, pimp taking money from prostitutes by night

Tan Tam Mei 
The New Paper
July 2, 2016

He was a high ranking lieutenant-colonel in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).

But when night fell, Emlyn Thomas Thariyan slipped on another face - that of a pimp.

Under his command was a group of five prostitutes who gave him 40 per cent of what they earned from servicing the clients he got for them.

Thariyan, 40, who was discharged from the SAF in 2014, was yesterday jailed for six months after pleading guilty to two charges of procuring women for the purpose of prostitution and another two for living off the earnings of prostitutes.

Another three charges were taken into consideration during sentencing. The offences, which were committed between September 2011 and July 2012, came to light when Thariyan was on trial in 2013 for having commercial sex with a minor.

He was among 51 men charged over the offence in the high-profile case.

Evidence produced in his defence during his trial led to fresh investigations into the current case. (See report.)

Thariyan was arrested in his home on May 9 this year.

Investigations revealed that he had approached two of the five prostitutes in the Orchard area in May 2012.

He told them that he was part of a talent company that handled modelling assignments and he asked for their mobile numbers, the court was told.

He later offered to arrange social escort assignments for them. He also told them that they would be paid between $600 and $1,300 if they provided sexual services to their clients.

In exchange for his help, they were to give him 40 per cent of their earnings. They agreed to his terms.

Investigations also revealed that Thariyan secured at least four customers for one of the women, who was 22 years old at the time. She agreed to become a prostitute because she needed money for school fees and family expenses.

He secured three customers for the other woman, who was then 24.

Thariyan arranged for the two women to provide sexual services to the customers at top hotels in Singapore and even in Johor Baru, Malaysia.

Court documents showed that he earned at least $2,650 from the two women from May to June in 2012.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Jesintha Veijayaratnam called for Thariyan to be jailed for at least three to six months.


His defence lawyer, Mr S.K. Kumar, said his client had lost everything and would have to rebuild his life "from scratch" after serving his sentence.

Mr Kumar added that Thariyan's siblings had also distanced themselves from him.

During sentencing, District Judge Matthew Joseph said: "I've noted that you are remorseful and your counsel's point that you have lost everything. But you are only 40 years old. It's not too late to begin again."

The judge also granted Thariyan's request to make a phone call.

The sentence was backdated to May 10, when he was remanded.

When The New Paper asked Mr Kumar to elaborate on what exactly Thariyan had lost as a result of crime, he would only say that his client had to find a new job after coming out of prison.

What could have possessed a man in his position to throw everything away by turning to vice?

Only Thariyan can answer that because his reason for moonlighting as a pimp was not mentioned in court.

Dr Lim Boon Leng, a psychiatrist in private practice, said that Thariyan's actions that resulted in his fall from a position of authority could have been due to personal troubles, the lure of monetary gain or even thrill-seeking behaviour.

He qualified that Thariyan's real motive could not be known without speaking to him.

"When someone does well in his career, it doesn't mean that he makes wise choices. He could, in a moment of folly, take unnecessary risks or exhibit irrational behaviour," said Dr Lim.

Despite Thariyan's career in the armed forces, which is associated with rules and regulations, he might have a deviant or an impulsive personality, he added.

"It is not all that unusual as risk-takers don't think of the consequences, even if it puts their career or reputation at risk."

In response to TNP's queries, a Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "The Singapore Armed Forces holds servicemen to high standards of discipline and integrity and expects them to abide by the law.

"Those who commit offences will be charged in court and dealt with in accordance with the law."

Thariyan's officer appointment was cancelled and he was discharged in 2014, the spokesman added.

Text messages led to new charges

While Emlyn Thomas Thariyan was on trial in 2013 for having commercial sex with an underage prostitute, his lawyer wanted Thariyan's mobile phone to be admitted as evidence as it was "crucial" to his defence.

Mr S. Skandarajah wanted text messages from his client's phone admitted as evidence to show that Thariyan had "carried on" a relationship with the prostitute after he bought her services for $500 in a Bencoolen Street hotel on Feb 18, 2011.

Thariyan, then 37 and a lieutenant-colonel in the armour formation of the Singapore Armed Forces, denied he had sex with her.


He was one of 51 men who were charged in 2012 with having paid sex with a 17-year-old prostitute who was part of an online vice ring.

The other men involved in the high-profile case included a former school principal, a banker and a former naval engineer.

Not only was Thariyan convicted of the offence and jailed for five months, the contents in his phone also led to fresh investigations against him.

The text messages produced as part of his defence had revealed that he had been in contact with social escorts and was living off the earnings of prostitution.

For the charges of procuring women for prostitution and living on the earnings of prostitutes, Thariyan, 40, was yesterday sentenced to six months' jail.

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