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Man who steered boat with 8 Indonesians on board in attempt to enter Singapore illegally gets jail

SINGAPORE — A group of eight Indonesian immigrants tried to enter Singapore illegally in August, taking a fiberglass boat from Batam in the wee hours of the morning, then jumping into the water and swimming for shore when they were spotted by the police.

The unnumbered fiberglass boat used by the eight men to enter Singapore.

The unnumbered fiberglass boat used by the eight men to enter Singapore.

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SINGAPORE — A group of eight Indonesian immigrants tried to enter Singapore illegally in August, taking a fiberglass boat from Batam in the wee hours of the morning, then jumping into the water and swimming for shore when they were spotted by the police.

On Thursday (Dec 16), boatman Lakau, who goes by one name, was sentenced to 22 months and six weeks' jail and a fine of S$1,500.

The 55-year-old, who has been remanded since August, pleaded guilty to nine charges under the Immigration and Customs Act. These were mostly for entering Singapore illegally or abetting others to do the same, with one charge of importing contraband cigarettes. Another five charges were considered in sentencing.

Lakau had met co-accused Aras Lamara, 37, at a coffee shop in Batam, Indonesia, in early 2021. Aras allegedly engaged him to transport contraband cigarettes from Batam to Singapore by sea.

In return, Aras purportedly promised to help Lakau get a job in Singapore.

In the early hours of Aug 27 this year, Lakau, Aras and six other Indonesian men aged between 21 and 42 boarded a fiberglass boat in Batam.

Lakau steered the boat towards Singapore and tried to edge towards the shoreline upon reaching the Tuas Dangerous Goods Jetty. However, an officer with the Police Coast Guard spotted the craft at about 2.25am.

The eight men on the boat abandoned the vessel and tried to swim towards shore. They were later arrested, and no valid identification or travel documents were found on them. There were also no official records of their entry into Singapore.

Lakau admitted that he steered the boat, saying he had entered Singapore illegally to seek employment. He asked the court for leniency, saying he wanted to go home to Indonesia earlier.

Aras pleaded guilty to his related offences under the Immigration Act on Thursday and was given 19 months' jail and nine strokes of the cane. He had previous convictions under the Immigration Act, and had been repatriated after receiving a notice in June 2018 informing him that he could not re-enter Singapore unless he had written permission.

Aras did not want to plead guilty to his Customs Act charges for importing prohibited goods and will return to court in January for a pre-trial conference.

For abetting a person by helping him enter Singapore illegally, Lakau could have been jailed for between six months and two years. CNA

For more stories like this, visit cna.asia

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