Lua Lay Eng v Public Prosecutor

CourtMagistrates' Court (Singapore)
JudgeEric Tin Keng Seng
Judgment Date10 December 2003
Neutral Citation[2003] SGMC 39
Citation[2003] SGMC 39
Published date15 January 2004
Plaintiff CounselHarvin Bath (Surian and Partners)
Defendant CounselRamesh Shanmugam (Official Assignee)

1 This is an appeal against sentence by Lua Lay Eng (“Lua”) who pleaded guilty before me to the following charge (“P11”):

You…are charged that you, having been adjudged a bankrupt on 28th day of January 2000 and having not obtained a discharge from bankruptcy, did leave Singapore, on or about 10th day of December 2001 for Malaysia without the previous permission of the Official Assignee and have thereby committed an offence punishable under section 131(2) of the Bankruptcy Act (Chapter 20).

2 I ascertained that she understood the nature and consequence of her plea.

Summary of facts

3 Lua admitted without any qualification to the statement of facts (“A”). She was adjudged a bankrupt by the High Court on 28 January 2000 in Bankruptcy No. 3818 of 1999. At the material time, she was still an undischarged bankrupt. She was aware of the requirement to seek the Official Assignee’s prior permission before leaving Singapore. On 29 February 2000, she acknowledged receipt of the Bankruptcy Information Sheets which notified her that it is an offence for an undischarged bankrupt to leave Singapore without the previous permission of the Official Assignee. On 14 March 2000, she applied for and was granted permission by the Official Assignee to leave for Indonesia for 11 days from 20 April 2000 to 30 April 2000. On 10 May 2000, she applied for and was granted permission by the Official Assignee to leave for China, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Malaysia, for more than 2 months from 16 May 2000 to 25 July 2000. On 24 July 2000, she applied for and was granted permission by the Official Assignee to leave for China, Indonesia, Malaysia for more than 5 months from 29 July 2000 to 28 January 2001. On 26 September 2001, she applied for and was granted permission by the Official Assignee to leave for China, Indonesia and USA for one month from 27 September 2001 to 27 October 2001.

4 However, when the Official Assignee inspected her international passport on 2 June 2003, it was discovered that she left Singapore on 10 December 2001 for Malaysia without the permission of the Official Assignee.

Charges taken into consideration

5 After I pronounced her guilty and convicted as charged, Lua admitted to 10 other charges and consented for them to be taken into consideration for the purpose of sentence. These charges alleged that she left for Malaysia without the Official Assignee’s permission on 4 November 2001 (“P1”), 5 November 2001 (“P2”), 15 November 2001 (“P3”), 18 November 2001 (“P4”), 19 November 2001 (“P5”), 24 November 2001 (“P6”), 1 December 2001 (“P7”), 3 December 2001 (“P8”), 4 December 2001 (“P9”), and 8 December 2001 (“P10”).


6 Lua admitted to her criminal record (“B”). On 30 April 2002, she was fined $5,000 for acting as a director without the leave of court whilst being an undischarged bankrupt, an offence under s 148(1) of the Companies Act (Cap 50). Another count of cheating under s 417 of the Penal Code (Cap 224) was taken into consideration.


7 In mitigation (“C”), counsel informed the court that Lua is 44 years of age. Her highest educational standard is secondary 4. Unemployed, she was dependent on her brother and sister for financial and emotional support. She was separated from her husband since 2001 and has the custody, care and control of two young children aged 10 and 11 years. The elder son was diagnosed with a serious heart problem, requiring constant medical care.

8 It was submitted that Lua made the trips to Malaysia during the material time to accompany her seriously ill mother to seek treatment from a Chinese Sinseh located at Senai. She had to do so as her other siblings had their work commitments. Her mother was suffering from stroke and cancer of the bone. Lua would at times go on her own to collect herbal medicine for her mother. Her mother passed away on 1 September 2003.

9 It was further submitted that Lua was completely remorseful and repentant. She pleaded for the court’s compassion and leniency, and promised not to commit any offence.

Sentencing framework

10 Section 131(1)(b) of the Bankruptcy Act reads,

Where a bankrupt has not obtained his discharge… he shall not leave, remain or reside outside Singapore without the previous permission of the Official Assignee.

11 Section 131(2) of the Bankruptcy Act provides that a bankrupt who fails to comply with this section shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or to both.

12 The object of this provision is stated succinctly in paragraph 3 of...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT