Ong Hock Sung v Public Prosecutor

JudgeSee Kee Oon
Judgment Date08 February 2001
Neutral Citation[2001] SGDC 40
Citation[2001] SGDC 40
Published date19 April 2005
CourtDistrict Court (Singapore)

Ong Hock Sung ...appellant


Public Prosecutor ...respondent

Citation: DAC No 37335 of 2000 & 5 ors
Jurisdiction: Singapore
Date: 2001:02:08
2001:01:29, 2000:12:12
Court: Subordinate Courts
Coram: See Kee Oon, District Judge
Counsel: Mervyn Tan (Mervyn Tan & Co) for the appellant
Hwong Meng Jet & Edwin San (Deputy Public Prosecutor) for the respondent


Grounds of Decision

The charge

The accused pleaded guilty on the day of trial before me to the following charge in DAC 37335/2000:

You, ONG HOCK SUNG, F/72 NRIC NO: S0969233I Singapore Citizen, are charged that you, between 19th day of March 2000 and 17th day of July 2000, at No 372B Geylang Road, did harbour one Wu Ke Hua, M/34, a PRC national, a person who had acted in contravention of Section 6(1)(c) of the Immigration Act, Chapter 133, by entering into Singapore without being in possession of a valid pass, and whom you had reasonable grounds for believing to be a person who has acted in contravention of Section 6(1) of the Immigration Act, Chapter 133 and you have thereby committed an offence under Section 57(1)(d) of the Immigration Act, punishable under Section 57(1)(ii) of the said Act.

2. She admitted to five other similar charges in DAC 37336/2000 to 37340/2000 and consented to have them taken into consideration for the purpose of sentencing. I sentenced her to 7 months' imprisonment, one month more than the mandatory minimum term. My reasons are as follows.

The statement of facts

3. The accused admitted to the statement of facts without qualification. She is a tenant of No 372B Geylang Road ('the premises'). Here, several immigration offenders of different nationalities were found during a police raid conducted on 17 July 2000. Apart from Wu Ke Hua ('Wu'), a PRC national named in DAC 37335/2000, the police arrested three other Chinese nationals and two Bangladeshis. Wu had entered Singapore illegally sometime on or about 17 March 2000. On 19 March 2000, he was brought to the premises where he stayed on until his arrest on 17 July 2000.

4. Between November 1998 and January 1999, the accused was running a lodging house at No 21C Geylang, Lorong 13. Sometime in April 1999, she had been informed by the police that she should check her tenants' particulars, their passports and work permits, in order to ensure that she did not harbour any illegal immigrants. The accused claimed to be illiterate. As such, she was informed to seek assistance from other persons to help her conduct the verification on her tenants. She was also advised to refrain from renting out the rooms if she was in doubt.

5. Sometime in February 2000, the accused rented the premises from one Chan Cheng Chew. She then used the premises as a lodging house and sublet the entire unit to foreign nationals. She charged her tenants rent of $150 per month. She was aware that Wu was a foreign national and had reasonable grounds for believing that he was an illegal immigrant. In fact, Wu had informed her after staying at the premises for two months that he did not have any travel documents. Nevertheless, the accused allowed Wu to continue staying on at the premises.

The charges taken into consideration

6. Five other similar counts of harbouring immigration offenders were taken into consideration for the purpose of sentencing. In respect of these counts, the accused admitted that she had harboured five immigration offenders (three PRC nationals and two Bangladeshis) for periods ranging from about 3 weeks to 4 months.


7. The accused had a previous unrelated conviction dating from 1986 which I disregarded. The plea of guilt and conviction were recorded on 12 December 2000. I acceded to counsel's request for an adjournment of approximately seven weeks in order for the accused to sort out her personal affairs and for counsel to prepare a mitigation plea. Counsel tendered a written mitigation plea on her behalf.

8. The accused is a widow. She resides with her youngest son, aged 31 years. She had seven children. Most of them do not live with her. She has fifteen grandchildren. She suffers from various ailments, such as dizzy spells, rheumatism and depression. She is currently on medication for hypertension. She also feels anorexic at times. A note from Dr Tay Boon Chong of Wong Clinic, dated 17 October 2000, was tendered in support of her medical condition.

9. The accused was uneducated and came from a very poor family. She had to work from a very young age. She had brought up her seven children all by herself as her husband had passed on when she was still very young. Being illiterate and of advanced age, she did not realise the standards of due diligence imposed upon her in connection with the present offence. She had not checked the validity of documents and also did not verify whether they were genuine. She had sub-let the premises in order not to be a burden to her children. She wanted to remain...

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