Public Prosecutor v Dinesh s/o Rajantheran

CourtDistrict Court (Singapore)
JudgeSamuel Hwa Kuan Chua
Judgment Date12 June 2018
Neutral Citation[2018] SGMC 32
Citation[2018] SGMC 32
Docket NumberMAC 911368-2017 & 62 ors, Magistrate’s Appeal No. 9160-2018-01
Published date05 December 2018
Plaintiff CounselMinistry of Manpower Prosecuting Officers Mr Jimmy Khoo & Ms Justine Loh
Defendant CounselMr Kalidass s/o Murugaiyan (26-27 April 2018) & Mr Peter Fernando (23-24 May 2018)
Hearing Date27 April 2018,23 May 2018,26 April 2018,24 May 2018
District Judge Samuel Hwa Kuan Chua: The charges

The Accused, a 31 year old male Singaporean, faced a total of 63 charges under section 22A(1)(a) p/u section 22A(2) Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (“EFMA”). Each charge alleged that the Accused had received directly from a foreign employee a sum of SGD2,000 as a condition for the employment of the said foreign employee by one of two companies that the Accused represented, namely, STL V Marine Pte Ltd and Santarli Marine Pte Ltd.

The events of 26-27 April 2018

In the morning of 26 April 2018, the 63 charges were read to the Accused. The Accused claimed trial to all 63 charges and the trial commenced that same morning. Mr Kalidass Murugaiyan of M/s Kalidass Law Corporation, who had been instructed since 11 December 2017, represented the Accused at the trial. The Accused could speak and read English and did not request for any interpreter to assist him.

The Prosecution intended to call 16 witnesses (“PWs”) at the trial.

On 26 April 2018, PW1 Zin Nyein Htet completed his Examination-in-Chief, Cross-examination and Re-examination in the Myanmar language, with a Court-appointed Myanmar interpreter performing the role of interpreter.

In the afternoon of 26 April 2018, PW2 Khant Si Thu completed his Examination-in-Chief and was in the midst of his Cross-examination by Mr Kalidass when the trial was adjourned to 27 April 2018 at 10am.

In the morning of 27 April 2018, before PW2 Khant Si Thu resumed his Cross-examination, Mr Kalidass informed the Court that he had just been communicated some information by the Prosecution pertaining to a plea offer and that he needed to take instructions from the Accused. He requested for 15 minutes to do so. The hearing was adjourned to 10.40am.

At about 10.52am, parties requested for a Chamber hearing, during which Mr Kalidass informed the Court that the Accused had decided to plead guilty to the Prosecution’s offer but requested for the case to be adjourned to 2.30pm in order for him to confirm the Accused’s instructions in writing and to go through the Statement of Facts (“SOF”) with the Accused. The hearing was adjourned to 2.30pm for the Prosecution to finalise the SOF and their sentencing position, and for Mr Kalidass to take the Accused’s written instructions on the Prosecution’s plea offer and to go through the SOF with the Accused.

The hearing resumed at 2.49pm on 27 April 2018, with Mr Kalidass representing the Accused. Ministry of Manpower (“MOM”) Prosecutor Ms Justine Loh informed the Court that the Prosecution was proceeding on 20 charges and was applying for the remaining 43 charges to be taken into consideration for the purpose of sentencing.

Guilty plea

The 20 proceeded charges and their prescribed sentence were read and explained to the Accused using the iPad which the Court Officer had shown to him. The Accused, who was able to speak and read English, also read the charges himself. In so doing and with the benefit of legal advice from Mr Kalidass, the Accused must have known the nature and consequences of his plea. Thereafter, the Court asked the Accused how he pleaded to the 20 proceeded charges. The Accused pleaded guilty to the 20 charges in English.

Statement of facts

Ms Loh read out the SOF in Court. Before the Accused admitted to the SOF, Mr Kalidass took instructions from the Accused and thereafter raised two issues which the Accused had with the SOF. First, with reference to the last sentence of paragraph 1, Mr Kalidass clarified that the Accused’s role in the recruitment of the workers was that he had interviewed them and that he was not the final authority on appointing them. Mr Kalidass confirmed that the Accused had no objections for that sentence to remain in the SOF with that clarification having been made as to the Accused’s role in the recruitment process. Second, with reference to the fourth line of paragraph 4, Mr Kalidass clarified that the workers were all employed by the date of their arrival in Singapore and that he was not in a position to fire them. That clarification was not inconsistent with the SOF and the Prosecution had no issue with it. During this time, the Court pointed out a typographical error in the date in table A row B19 of the SOF, and Ms Loh amended the date from 15 March 2017 to 7 March 2017. The SOF read as follows:

The accused is one Dinesh s/o Rajantheran (Male, 30 years old) (NRIC: xxx) of Apt Blk 497A Tampines Street 45 #08-10 Singapore 520497. During the material time, the accused was the senior marine executive for one STL V Marine Pte Ltd (UEN: 201001017H) and one Santarli Marine Pte Ltd (UEN: 201430985Z) (collectively, the “companies”) which are both under the Santarli Marine Group. The accused’s job scope in the said companies includes the recruitment of Myanmar, Indonesian and Bangladeshi workers.

On 5 June 2017, Lim Wee Siong, an Employment Inspector of the Ministry of Manpower (“MOM”), carried out investigations into possible contraventions of the laws under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (Chapter 91A). Investigations revealed that the following foreign employees whose particulars are stated in Table A below, arrived in Singapore on the dates as stated in Column D. Investigations revealed that the accused, on the date of the foreign employees’ arrival in Singapore, did receive directly from the foreign employees a sum of $2,000 each as a condition for the employment as reclamation workers of the said foreign employees by the respective companies as stated in Column E. Table A
S/No (A) Name of foreign employees (B) FIN (C) Date of arrival in Singapore (D) Company (E) Occupation (F) Charge (MAC No.)
B1 Min Khant Thu Rein xxx 2 Dec 2016 STL V Marine Pte Ltd Reclamation worker 1st 911419/2017
B2 Win Kyaw Htet xxx 3 Jan 2017 STL V Marine Pte Ltd Reclamation worker 2nd 911414/2017
B3 Kaung Myat xxx 3 Jan 2017 STL V Marine Pte Ltd Reclamation worker 3rd 911421/2017
B4 Yan Aung Hein xxx 3 Jan 2017 STL V Marine Pte Ltd Reclamation worker 4th 911401/2017
B5 Linn Htut xxx 3 Jan 2017 STL V Marine Pte Ltd Reclamation worker 5th 911400/2017
B6 Naing Lin Tun xxx 3 Jan 2017 STL V Marine Pte Ltd Reclamation worker 6th 911420/2017
B7 Lwin Naing Soe xxx 19 Jan 2017 STL V Marine Pte Ltd Reclamation worker 13th 911408/2017
B8 Thu Ya Lwin xxx 25 Jan 2017 STL V Marine Pte Ltd Reclamation worker 14th 911412/2017
B9 Kyaw Kyaw Minn xxx 14 Jun 2016 STL V Marine Pte Ltd Reclamation worker 15th 911368/2017
B10 Sai Nay Htet xxx 14 Jun 2016 STL V Marine Pte Ltd Reclamation worker 16th 911385/2017
B11 Khin Maung Win xxx 26 Jul 2017 Santarli Marine Pte Ltd Reclamation worker 43rd 911405/2017
B12 Zin Nyein Htet xxx 30 Mar 2017 Santarli Marine Pte Ltd Reclamation worker 48th 911411/2017
B13 Nan Lwin Aung xxx 16 Mar 2017 Santarli Marine Pte Ltd Reclamation worker 52nd 911415/2017
B14 Win Moe Aung xxx 16 May 2017 Santarli Marine Pte Ltd Reclamation worker 53rd 911425/2017
B15 Zin Ko Ko xxx 16 Mar 2017 Santarli Marine Pte Ltd Reclamation worker 54th 911397/2017
B16 Hein Min Ko xxx 7 Mar 2017 Santarli Marine Pte Ltd Reclamation worker 56th 911390/2017
B17 Yan Naing Soe xxx 16 Mar 2017 Santarli Marine Pte Ltd Reclamation worker 57th 911399/2017
B18 Kyaw Bo Bo Htut xxx 16 Mar 2017 Santarli Marine Pte Ltd Reclamation worker 58th 911392/2017
B19 Wai Min Thu xxx 7 Mar 2017 Santarli Marine Pte Ltd Reclamation worker 59th 911393/2017
B20 Khant Si Thu xxx 15 May 2017 Santarli Marine Pte Ltd Reclamation worker 62nd 911394/2017
Investigations revealed that the foreign employees had each paid a sum of about 4 million kyat (equivalent to about SGD4,000) as agent fees to an employment agent in Myanmar known as “Soe Hla” in order to get their jobs as seamen in Singapore. Investigations further revealed that just prior to the foreign employees’ departure from Myanmar to Singapore at Yangon International Airport on the dates as stated in Column D of Table A above, Soe Hla passed envelopes to the foreign employees, stating that there was a sum of money in the envelopes, and that they were to pass it to the accused upon their...

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