Bazaar operator fined for hiring foreigners without valid work passes

Last month, 22 illegal workers were nabbed at the Geylang Serai Bazaar following a joint raid by the MOM, National Environment Agency and Singapore Police Force. Over the past two years, MOM has conducted 76 enforcement operations against illegal emp
Last month, 22 illegal workers were nabbed at the Geylang Serai Bazaar following a joint raid by the MOM, National Environment Agency and Singapore Police Force. Over the past two years, MOM has conducted 76 enforcement operations against illegal employment at night markets.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

A Singaporean, Sao Wei Loon, has pleaded guilty in the State Courts to hiring 19 foreigners without valid work passes.

The foreigners, who were social visit pass holders, were hired as stall assistants at three pasar malams - located in Geylang Serai, Tampines and Toa Payoh, between June 1 and Sept 16 last year. Their illegal employment ranged from three days to more than three weeks.

Sao was on Tuesday convicted of eight charges and fined $72,000, with 11 other charges taken into consideration for sentencing purposes. The 40-year-old bazaar operator will serve the default sentence of six months' imprisonment in lieu of the fine.

In a separate case, a former director and a current director of logistics company SK Yap Construction were convicted on May 2 of conspiring to hire 10 foreign workers without valid work passes.

Each director was fined $79,000 in total, in default of which they will have to serve 33 weeks' imprisonment. The offenders were also banned from employing foreign workers.

In the past two years, 109 employers were convicted of illegal employment offences.

Last month, 22 illegal workers were nabbed in a joint raid by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), National Environment Agency and Singapore Police Force at the Geylang Serai Bazaar.

Over the past two years, MOM has conducted 76 enforcement operations against illegal employment at night markets here. They arrested 257 illegal workers during this period, a spokesman said.

Mr Kandhavel Periyasamy, director of the employment inspectorate at MOM's Foreign Manpower Management Division, said in a statement: "This is a particularly egregious case of illegal employment as Sao had illegally employed a large number of foreigners on social visit passes."

He added: "We will continue to take tough enforcement action against employers who illegally employ foreigners."

All foreigners working in Singapore, including those working in bazaars and night markets, must hold valid work passes.

Under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, employers are not allowed to hire any foreigner without first obtaining a valid work pass. Employers who flout the law can be fined a maximum of $30,000 or jailed for up to 12 months, or both. They will also be banned from employing foreign workers.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2017, with the headline 'Bazaar operator fined for hiring foreigners without valid work passes'. Print Edition | Subscribe