English language translator from China jailed for taking language test on behalf of other

SINGAPORE - An English language translator from China who sat for a language proficiency test here on behalf of someone else was sentenced to five months in jail on Thursday.

Lina Zhang had been promised 7,000 yuan (S$1509) by a recruiter to pass the Dec 6 sitting of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) examination for someone named Ge Li.

The 29-year-old presented a forged Chinese passport that bore her face and the other person's details to gain access to the test venue.

The invigilator suspected something was amiss with the passport and sounded the alarm. Zhang pleaded guilty on Thursday to cheating by personation. The details of Ge Li's identity and whereabouts are unclear.

The court heard that Zhang had received an email in November last year asking if she was interested in sitting for examinations on behalf of other foreign nationals. She received the forged passport after agreeing to the offer. Some 6,800 yuan was also transferred to her bank account for her to buy flight tickets and accommodation here.

Zhang entered Singapore on a social visit pass and cleared immigrations using her own passport. The test was conducted at the United World College of South East Asia campus in Dover Road.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Thiagesh Sukumaran said there was some evidence of syndicate involvement in the case.

Defence counsel Edmund Wong said Zhang had an abscess in her breast that could be cancerous, though this has not been confirmed. She is married with a three-year-old daughter back in China and had needed money for her medical treatment.

District Judge Wong Choon Ning considered Zhang's condition before passing sentence.

Zhang could have been jailed for up to five years and fined.

The IELTS examination is a test conducted by the British Council here. Its results can be used in applications for various degree programmes overseas, as well as permanent residency in countries which require proficiency in the English language.