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One Singaporean and One Malaysian Sentenced After Harbouring an Immigration Offender

             On 10 February 2023, a 35-year-year-old Malaysian man, Woo Chee Kit, was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for harbouring a 36-year-old female Chinese immigration offender, He Yan. On 16 February 2023, a 30-year-old Singaporean man, Wang Xiaozeng, who was also involved in the same harbouring case, was sentenced to 44 weeks’ imprisonment and a fine of $1,400 for offences under the Penal Code and Women’s Charter for subletting rental units to vice-related offenders. His charge for harbouring He Yan was taken into consideration during sentencing. 

2            He Yan was arrested by ICA officers at a unit in Oxley Rise on 21 December 2020 for unlawfully remaining in Singapore after the expiry of her Special Pass on 5 October 2020.

3            Investigations by ICA revealed that He Yan had sought Woo’s assistance to source for an accommodation. Woo, who was a work permit holder, informed He Yan that he would be able to arrange for her to stay in a rental unit and engage another person to sign the Tenancy Agreement (TA) on her behalf for a one-time fee and monthly service commission. He Yan agreed to the terms as she was unable to rent a place on her own since her presence in Singapore was unlawful.  

4            Woo then arranged for Wang to sign the TA with a housing agent who represented the owner of the unit. To conceal his plan of subletting the unit to He Yan, Woo informed the housing agent that he would be staying in the unit after the TA was signed and listed himself as the occupier on the TA. He Yan moved into the unit on 1 November 2020.

5            Despite knowing He Yan was a foreigner, the duo did not exercise due diligence to check her identification documents and verify whether her stay in Singapore was valid. Wang and Woo had committed an offence of harbouring an immigration offender under the Immigration Act.

6            ICA takes a firm stance against any person who harbours immigration offenders. Those who wish to rent their premises must exercise due diligence in checking the status of their prospective foreign tenants to ensure that their status in Singapore is legal. They are required to conduct the three mandatory checks:

(a)  Check the tenant’s original immigration/work pass;
(b)  Cross check the particulars on his/her pass against the particulars on his/her original passport; and
(c)  Verify the validity of his/her pass by checking with the issuing authority (i.e. the Ministry of Manpower for work passes and the ICA for immigration passes - Student’s Pass and Long-Term Visit Pass).

7            If any person is found guilty of recklessly (i.e. carrying out only one of the three due diligence checks) or knowingly harbouring overstayers and/or illegal immigrants, he may be sentenced to imprisonment for a term not less than six months and not more than two years and a fine not exceeding S$6,000. If any person is found guilty of negligently (i.e. carrying out only two of the three due diligence checks) harbouring overstayers and/or illegal immigrants, he may be sentenced to a fine not exceeding S$6,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both.

28 FEBRUARY 2023