There is a strong consideration of public interest in deterring people from misusing passports to enter Singapore, said a district judge as he sentenced a businessman to five months' jail for using a passport that was not his.
"This necessarily requires a strong message to be sent to members of the public that such activities will not be tolerated by the courts," said District Judge Low Wee Ping, noting that there had been seven cases of false passports used so far this year compared with four in 2013.
The fact that Singaporean Mick Davies had paid 55,000 yuan (S$11,300) to procure the document in Vietnam was "clearly an aggravating factor", he added in decision grounds issued last month.
Davies, 56, admitted using the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passport bearing the name Fu Ching that was not issued to him to enter Singapore from Vietnam on July 12. Two related charges were taken into consideration.
Born in Hubei and ranked by Forbes in 2007 as the 70th richest man in China, Davies started a travel business here about a decade ago, to add to his interests which included real estate, tourism and telecoms.
He became a Singapore citizen about five years ago and lives here with his wife and daughter.
About three years ago, he changed his name Lan Shili to Mick Davies. At that time, he had been released from a Hubei prison after serving time for tax evasion.
According to media reports, Davies was a well-known entrepreneur in Hubei who left a government job at 25 to set up a company selling computers with just 270 yuan.
In the current case, the court heard that he left Singapore for Guangzhou in February, but was detained by the Chinese police in relation to a complaint of alleged fraud by a former business partner.
Released on bail, his passport was impounded. In July, he fled to Vietnam illegally, bought a passport there and flew back to Singapore the same month.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Shala Igbal and Ms Michelle Seet from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority presented a table of precedents to press for a deterrent jail term, pointing out there was no evidence to Davies' claim that he fled China because of threats to his life.
His lawyer Chung Ting Fai saidDavies deeply regretted his actions, which had brought "untold agony and trauma to his family".
Judge Low said eight months' imprisonment was appropriate to signal deterrence but given that Davies had served two months and 23 days in remand, sentenced him to five months' jail. Davies is currently on $80,000 bail pending appeal.