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Man jailed for harbouring immigration offender, who fell to death while evading arrest

SINGAPORE — A 47-year-old man has been jailed for eight months for harbouring a China national who had overstayed here since 2014 and died after climbing out of a window and falling four storeys while evading arrest two years ago.  

SINGAPORE — A 47-year-old man has been jailed for eight months for harbouring a China national who had overstayed here since 2014 and died after climbing out of a window and falling four storeys while evading arrest two years ago.  

Chan Kok Keong, a Singaporean, had not exercised due diligence to check if his friend Gong Xiuxian’s immigration pass was valid.

The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said in a news release on Friday (May 27) that Chan had rented two units located at Kembangan Plaza and Eunos Crescent and then signed tenancy agreements to allow Gong to live in and manage the units from July to September 2019 and October 2019 to November 2020 respectively. 

Media reports stated that Gong was a 41-year-old woman who worked as a private masseuse from her home and sold apparel at market stalls.

Chan claimed that he did not verify if Gong’s immigration status in Singapore was valid because he had assumed that she held a valid dependant’s pass, which is issued to a family member of a work pass holder here.

However, investigations revealed that Gong had overstayed in Singapore since 2014. 

Earlier reports stated that ICA officers received an anonymous complaint in October 2020 about Gong overstaying in Singapore. 

The next month, when ICA officers conducted checks on the Eunos Crescent public flat, Gong tried to evade the arrest by climbing out from the bedroom window.

She fell off the window ledge to the ground floor and was pronounced dead on-site by paramedics.

Her death was pronounced “an unfortunate misadventure” by Coroner Kamala Ponnampalam in her findings issued in September 2021, media outlets reported. 

“For not exercising due diligence to ascertain if Gong’s immigration pass was valid when he allowed her to stay at the unit located on Eunos Crescent, Chan had committed an offence of harbouring an immigration offender with reckless disregard under the Immigration Act,” ICA said on Friday.

“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.”

These include:

  • Checking the tenant’s original immigration or work pass
  • Cross-checking the particulars of the tenant’s pass against the particulars on their passport
  • Verifying the validity of the pass by checking with the issuing authority

For example, work-related passes can be checked with the Ministry of Manpower and immigration passes such as student passes and long-term visit passes can be checked with ICA. 

Anyone found guilty of carrying out only one of the above three due diligence checks or knowingly harbouring overstayers or illegal immigrants may be jailed for up to two years and fined up to S$6,000. 

Those found guilty of carrying out only two of the three due diligence checks or harbouring overstayers and illegal immigrants may be jailed for up to 12 months or fined up to S$6,000, or both.

Related topics

court crime immigration ICA Eunos Crescent overstayer death

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