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Jail for recruiter who illegally redeemed 397 free Temasek Foundation face mask kits from vending machines

SINGAPORE — While working as a recruiter, Chua Sah May used multiple identification numbers of foreign employees to illegally redeem nearly 400 free face masks given out by Temasek Foundation to help combat the spread of Covid-19.

Chua Sah May (pictured) illegally collected at least 397 mask kits valued at about S$3,100. After she was arrested, she surrendered 454 kits to the police.
Chua Sah May (pictured) illegally collected at least 397 mask kits valued at about S$3,100. After she was arrested, she surrendered 454 kits to the police.
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SINGAPORE — While working as a recruiter, Chua Sah May used multiple identification numbers of foreign employees to illegally redeem nearly 400 free face-mask kits given out by Temasek Foundation to help combat the spread of Covid-19.

Chua, 48, a Singaporean, was jailed for seven months on Monday (Jan 17), after pleading guilty to a cheating charge.

Each resident in Singapore was entitled to a pack of masks and could make the redemption by keying in their identity card number at designated vending machines located across the island. This was during two distribution exercises in June and September 2020.

The court heard that Chua was outsourced by her company to chemical companies Clariant Singapore and Archroma Singapore at the time. Court documents did not state the name of her employer. 

She was given the foreign identification numbers (FINs) of their foreign employees so that she could handle their payroll and work pass applications, and she stored the information in her hard drive.

She then decided to use the FINs, particularly those of employees who she believed had either left Singapore or could not enter due to Covid-19 restrictions, to illegally redeem the masks for her own use.

She copied the numbers on a piece of paper and took it to Yio Chu Kang Community Club, collecting at least 397 mask kits valued at about S$3,100. Her actions were captured on closed-circuit television footage.

After she was arrested, she surrendered 454 mask kits from her home to the police. Temasek Foundation, the philanthropic arm of state investor Temasek Holdings, could not accept them due to hygiene reasons, the court heard.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Louis Ngia sought at least seven months’ jail, noting that the masks Chua took could have lasted her more than 66 years. Temasek Foundation had estimated that a pair could last up to two months.

“While the offence was admittedly not sophisticated, the offence was persistently carried out across two mask distribution initiatives. It could not be said that the accused had acted out of impulse,” DPP Ngia added.

Chua’s lawyer Ramesh Tiwary said in mitigation that his client had “truly learned” her lesson, and that spending one night in a prison lockup had “really driven home the point that she cannot behave in the way she did”.

Those convicted of cheating can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined.

Several other individuals have been prosecuted in recent months for unlawfully redeeming Temasek Foundation face masks from vending machines, including a property agent and a clinic assistant.

Related topics

court crime Temasek Foundation mask vending machine cheating

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