5th debt collector jailed over Funan foodcourt ruckus

Yong Chee Meng kicked a rice cooker and shoved a cash register onto the floor at Soup Master stall.
Yong Chee Meng kicked a rice cooker and shoved a cash register onto the floor at Soup Master stall.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

A fifth former employee of debt-collection company Double Ace, who created a scene at a foodcourt at the former Funan DigitaLife Mall, was sentenced to six months' jail yesterday.

Yong Chee Meng, 41, who is appealing against sentence, had pleaded guilty to being a member of an unlawful assembly and causing mischief at the Soup Master stall at Food Junction in the Funan mall.

He also pleaded guilty to causing hurt to a 23-year-old man with co-accused Francis Lee Sian Sian, 40, in Buangkok Crescent in an unrelated incident in 2014.

Lee, who had also pleaded guilty in the Funan incident, has yet to be sentenced. His case will be mentioned on June 27.

The court heard that Yong, Lee, Andra Chew Keng Leng, 40, and Lim Boon Tiong, 43, were at Food Junction on Jan 15, 2015 at 1.15pm to collect a supposed debt owed by the Soup Master stall owner.

They told cashier Li Lili, 36, they were there to collect the amount, failing which they would disrupt the stall's operations.

 

They then took turns to stand in front of the stall to chase away potential customers. They told Ms Li to call her boss to turn up and account for the alleged debt owed.

But she immediately went to the management office to inform the manager on duty. Security guards were also sent to the scene.

Two more Double Ace employees Tang Wei Leong ,45 , and David Tan, 37, arrived separately.

The group refused to leave and demanded the money in the till, but management staff stopped them from taking the money.

Police officers came and issued them a verbal warning. Still, the group refused to leave. They unfurled a banner stating that debt recovery was in process.

Tang and Tan remained at the stall for about an hour before leaving the premises. But their colleagues who stayed behind became violent when the alleged debtor still failed to turn up by 3pm.

Yong kicked a rice cooker and shoved a cash register onto the floor. Chew threw various food items into a large pot of soup, destroying it. The police were called again, but the four men fled before the officers arrived. The total damage caused was $880.

Chew, Tan, Lim and Tang, who were dealt with earlier, are appealing against their sentences of between three and five months' jail.

The maximum penalty for being a member of an unlawful assembly and causing mischief is the same - two years' jail and a fine. For causing hurt, Yong could have been jailed for up to two years and/or fined up to $5,000.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 30, 2017, with the headline '5th debt collector jailed over Funan foodcourt ruckus'. Print Edition | Subscribe