Resident with S&CC arrears was arrested for court no-show; town council didn’t lodge police report
SINGAPORE — The Marsiling-Yew Tee Town Council on Tuesday (Jan 21) clarified that it did not make a police report which led to the arrest of a resident who owed service and conservancy charges (S&CC), as suggested in a Facebook post by a social activist.
SINGAPORE — The Marsiling-Yew Tee Town Council on Tuesday (Jan 21) clarified that it did not make a police report which led to the arrest of a resident who owed service and conservancy charges (S&CC), as initially suggested in a Facebook post by a social activist.
It added that a warrant of arrest was ordered by the court in December 2016 after the woman did not turn up for a court hearing regarding the unpaid bills.
The State Courts’ website states that it is standard procedure for the court to issue a warrant of arrest if an individual fails to turn up in court.
In response to TODAY’s queries, the police said that the woman was arrested on Dec 14, 2017 and she was held for 1.5 hours — contrary to the claim by Mr Gilbert Goh that the resident “stayed in the police lock-up for close to 10 hours”.
On Sunday, Mr Goh had put up a Facebook post claiming that the single mother with a 16-year-old son was arrested because she did not pay S$2,150 in accumulated S&CC bills.
Mr Goh subsequently edited his post early Tuesday morning, saying that it was “probable that the single mum may have ignored numerous court orders triggering a warrant of arrest as a result”. Nevertheless, he also wrote that “prolonged non-payment of (S&CC) bills can land a person in jail here and she still has to pay up the default after the prison discharge”.
In response, the Marsiling-Yew Tee Town Council said in its Facebook post that the woman — a resident who lives in the constituency managed by the town council — missed a mandated court hearing and a warrant of arrest was issued by the court.
The court hearing was scheduled after the town council started legal proceedings over her S&CC arrears.
Town councils manage public housing estates in various constituencies, and they have been known to take residents to court for failing to pay their S&CC.
In 2018, the State Courts had to put out new protocols to help town councils manage these burgeoning cases, where town councils will have to first negotiate and engage with the residents involved in such cases before starting criminal proceedings as a last resort.
In its Facebook post, the town council said that the woman has not been paying her S&CC arrears despite its attempts to reach her, and it thus decided to take the matter to court.
After she failed to turn up in court, a warrant of arrest was issued.
Typically, after a warrant of arrest is issued by the court, it will be handed over to the Warrant Enforcement Unit — which is a division under the Singapore Police Force — or the respective enforcement agencies for them to execute.
The individual will either be arrested by the police or be asked to surrender himself or herself at the Warrant Enforcement Unit for the warrant to be executed.
In this case, the resident was not immediately arrested as she did not commit a criminal offence.
During this time, the town council tried to reach her so that she would cooperate and arrange an instalment plan for the payments. The aim was to withdraw the legal proceedings if that happened, the town council said.
It added that it sent out six notifications to the woman from December 2016 and October 2017, and also conducted house visits.
TODAY understands that the town council was finally able to reach her after she was arrested and had to appear in court.
Five days after her arrest, the instalment plan was finally signed on Dec 19, 2017 — close to a year after the warrant was issued.
The town council said that it then withdrew court proceedings on the same day.
“The town council has been actively helping the resident over the past few years. The latest instalment plan made in November 2019 allowed the resident to gradually pay off the S&CC arrears while keeping up with the current monthly payment,” it added.