Ang Jwee Herng v Public Prosecutor

JudgeValerie Thean Pik Yuen
Judgment Date08 January 2001
Neutral Citation[2001] SGDC 5
Published date19 September 2003
CourtDistrict Court (Singapore)


Grounds of Decision

1. The accused, Ang Jwee Herng (Ang) was charged with three counts of having harboured immigration offenders under s 57(1)(d) of the Immigration Act, Cap 133. The first charge read as follows

DAC 28930/2000

You, Ang Jwee Herng, are charged that you, from sometime in the month of October 1999 to 16th February 2000, at No. 725A Havelock Road, Singapore, did harbour one Md Ali, a male Bangladeshi National, whom you had reasonable grounds for believing to be a person who has acted in contravention of section 6(1)(c) of the Immigration Act, Chapter 133 (1985 Edition), by entering Singapore without being in possession of a valid pass and you have thereby committed an offence under section 57(1)(d) of the Immigration Act, Chapter 133, punishable under section 57(1)(d)(ii) of the Act.

2. The other two charges, involving one Alam Ali and one Milon, were similar ones involving slightly different time periods. Ang was convicted after a trial and sentenced to a total term of 18 months imprisonment. He has appealed against his conviction and sentence

The prosecutions case

3. The prosecutions case was that Ang, through the services of a Bangladeshi called Majibur, rented accomodation to three Bangladeshi nationals at premises owned by him at 725A Havelock Road (the premises). The three men, Md Ali (Ali), Alam Ali (Alam) and Milon, resided at the premises from various periods between October 1999 and 16 February 2000

The defence case

4. Ang disclaimed all knowledge that Ali, Alam and Milon were residing at his premises. His evidence was that up to 30 November 1999, the premises were rented by a Bangladeshi named Saidur Rahman (Rahman), a tenant of the former owner from whom he purchased the premises. Thereafter, the flat was vacant. In January 2000, one Abdul Mazid (Mazid) approached him to rent the premises. This second rental agreement was signed in the office of his lawyers, Lee Bon Leong and Company, and it took effect from 18 February 2000

Evidence adduced by the prosecution

Evidence in respect of the intial police raid and investigations on 16 February 2000

PW3, SS Theng Kum Sheng, PW4, SS Ng Boon Tong, PW5, SS Leow Piang Kong, PW15, Teh Chee Kim

5. SS Theng led a raid on the premises on 16 February at 12.05 am, together with SS Ng Boon Tong, SS Ahmad Siraj, SS Chan Choon Wah and two special constables. Twenty-one Bangladeshis were found at the premises. 2 produced passports which showed that they overstayed. The others were unable to produce any valid documents. All 21 were placed under arrest and referred to investigators. SS Ng Boon Tong, whom Mr Wee asked to cross-examine, was queried as to whether the officers discovered the identity of the leader of the Bangladeshis present. He replied in the negative, explaining that a language barrier existed between the arresting officers and the Bangladeshis residing at the premises. He also confirmed that no key to the premises was found on any of the persons arrested.

6. Defence counsel, Mr Wee, had queries relating to variations in some of the names in the First Information Report, and the names on the charges subseequently brought against the Bangladeshi immigration offenders. SS Leow Piang Kong, the investigating officer after the arrest who processed and framed charges against the immigration offenders, explained that after the case was referred to investigators, an interpreter assisted to ascertain the Bangladeshis correct names, and charges were thereafter preferred against 18 of the 21 arrested Bangladeshis. SS Leows evidence in this respect was supported by SS Teh Chee Kim, the investigating officer for Angs case. He too, explained that the difference in names in the First Investigation Report and subsequent charges arose because during the arrest the officers asked for the names verbally and none of the subjects were in possession of documents. When the case was investigated, matters were clarified with the help of a Bangladeshi interpreter. Three names were changed and three men with travel documents were released.

Evidence of electricity consumption at the premises between September 1999 through February 2000

PW1, Low Ghee Yong

7. Mrs Low worked at Singapore Power Ltd. She testified that there was electricity consumption at the premises from September 1999 through February 2000. The bills were sent to the premises and they were paid in cash at various post offices.

Evidence of the three Bangladeshi nationals alleged to have been harboured by Ang

PW6, Md Ali

8. Md Ali (Ali) was convicted on 8 March 2000 under s 6 of the Immigration Act. He testified that he stayed at the premises from October 1999 to the date of his arrest, 16 February 2000. He was brought there by a friend of his agent, one Rocky. He paid $130 rent each month as he was told to do so by the Bangladeshi in charge of the premises, one Majibur. Majibur told him that he would pay his rent to the owner of the premises, which he recognised as Ang. It was his evidence that he saw Ang three times. On the first occasion, it was about 9 pm on 5 October 1999. Majibur came into the house together with Ang and asked Ali to pay his rent. He handed over $130 and Majibur handed the money to Ang. There were 4 other persons in the room he was in. Ang was present for about 10-15 minutes. The second occasion was on 5 November 1999, around 9 pm in the evening. He and some 15 other tenants were watching television when there was a knock on the door. He went to open the door and saw Ang with Majibur. They were told to switch off the television and to pay their rent. While Ang stood in the hall, Majibur collected rent from the tenants and handed the money to Ang, who was on the premises for about 10-15 minutes. The third time was 5 December 1999 at about 10pm. While Ali was returning home from Serangoon Road, he met Majibur and Ang at a park close to the premises. Majibur asked for the rent but Ali paid only $100, telling Majibur that he was short of cash. He left thereafter. His impression was that there were about 30 other Bangladeshis living at the premises while he was there. On all three occasions when he met Ang, he did not speak to Ang nor did the latter speak to him. Ang also did not check on his immigration status.

9. During his cross-examination, Ali was queried about but stated he was unaware of any person named Rahman. He explained that new tenants were brought in by Majibur, he did not see Ang when new tenants arrived. Mr Wee questioned him about the fact that there was only bed space for 24 persons despite his evidence that about 30 lived on the premises, he revealed that some slept in the kitchen area and the hall. During his re-examination, he explained that he first met Majibur in Serangoon Road, where Majibur explained to him that the rent was to be $130 and accompanied him to the premises. He also explained that he did not pay rent on 5 February, as he had not received his salary at the time.

PW7, Alam Ali

10. Alam Ali (Alam) was convicted on 9 March 2000 under s 6 of the Immigration Act. He arrived in Singapore three and a half months before his arrest, and he stayed at the premises until the day of his arrest. He paid $130 rent to Majibur, who was in charge of the house. In total, he remembered paying rent three times. Although he could not remember the exact dates, he remembered that it was either the 5th or 6th of each month. He saw Ang on one occasion, on the second occasion that he paid rent. It was about 8 or 9 pm, and Ang arrived at the premises together with Majibur. During this occasion, there were about 8 10 Bangladeshis in the house. Majibur asked Ang to take a seat. Majibur then went into one of the rooms, took money from a drawer, and handed over the money to Ang. As he was standing in the hall, he was able to look into the room. He knew that Ang was the houseowner as he had been told by Majibur.

11. Upon being cross-examined, he explained that when he was first brought to the house by his agent, the others told him that one Majibur ran the house. Three or four days later, Majibur came to the house. When Majibur first met him, he told Majibur that he was waiting for his agent. After 25 days, however, Majibur told him that he would need to pay rent if he wished to stay, and he paid up that months rent to Majibur. He was not sure whether he started living there at the beginning of November, because he was not sure of the months in English. He recalled that Majibur started collecting rent each month from the 2nd. Majibur told him that the rent collected was paid to the owner of the premises. On the second occasion that he paid rent, it was either the 5th or 6th of the month, and Ang visited the premises later that same day, about 8 or 9 pm. He had no idea how much Majibur paid Ang. Majibur only stayed in the house occasionally. He heard Majibur and Ang conversing on the second occasion when he paid rent, but was not able to understand what was said, because he did not know English. On the third occasion he paid rent, he did not see Ang. He was shown a picture of Mazid during his cross-examination, but he said he did not recognise the man.

PW8, Milon

12. Milon was convicted on 23 February 2000 under s 6 of the Immigration Act. He arrived in Singapore on 25 December 1999. After his arrival, he stayed at 725A Havelock Road. He was brought there by Majibur, who told him that the rent was $120. He paid rent once, on 4 January 2000. Majibur told him that the house belonged to a Chinese man. Majibur was in charge of the house and collected rental. Milon did not meet Ang during his stay.

13. During Milons cross-examination, he revealed that he met Majibur in Serangoon Road whilst having a cup of tea. He told Majibur that he was looking for a place to stay, and Majibur told him that he should pay rental of $120 a month if he was interested. He heard from the others at the house that Majibur obtained a commission from...

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