Three debt collectors jailed for being part of an unlawful assembly at Funan Digitalife Mall

(from left to right) Andra Chew Keng Leng, Lim Boon Tiong, and David Tan, had pleaded guilty to being members of an unlawful assembly whose object was to harass a cashier at a Chinese soup stall.
(from left to right) Andra Chew Keng Leng, Lim Boon Tiong, and David Tan, had pleaded guilty to being members of an unlawful assembly whose object was to harass a cashier at a Chinese soup stall. ST PHOTOS: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - Three of the six debt collectors who caused a stir at Funan Digitalife Mall two years ago were sentenced to jail on Friday (April 21) for being part of an unlawful assembly.

Andra Chew Keng Leng, 40, Lim Boon Tiong, 43, and David Tan, 37, had pleaded guilty together with Yong Chee Meng 40, Francis Lee Sian Sian, 40, and Tang Wei Leong, 45, last November to being members of an unlawful assembly whose object was to harass a cashier at a Chinese soup stall, Soup Master, at North Bridge Road between 1.15pm and 2.55pm on Jan 14, 2015.

Chew, Yong, Lee and Lim had also committed mischief and caused damage of $880.

All six were then employed by Double Ace Associates which provided debt recovery services to creditors for a fee.

The court was told that the six, clad in black polo shirts bearing "Debt Recovery" on the back, were tasked to collect a debt from the owner of Soup Master who allegedly owed $21,000 to Oregano Trading.

Chew, Yong, Lee and Lim first met at Food Junction during the peak lunch hour and confronted Soup Master's cashier, Ms Li Lili, a Singapore permanent resident, and told her that they were there to collect a debt from the owner, failing which they would disrupt the operations of the stall by harassing potential patrons.

They trespassed into the stall and switched the lights off to give the impression that the stall was not open for business. They chased away potential customers and also demanded that the victim call her boss down.

Ms Li immediately went to the management office to inform the manager on duty. Together with the mall's security personnel, they tried to mediate with the four men and called the police. Tan and Tang arrived separately to join the group.

The group refused to leave despite police intervention.

After police had cautioned them, Tan passed a banner to Lim which bore the message: "debt recovery in process".

Another group of police officers came, and issued a final verbal reminder before leaving the scene.

Tang and Tan had remained at the stall for about an hour, leaving the premises shortly before 2.55pm.

Frustrated that the owner had yet to arrive, Chew and Yong entered the stall premises while Lee and Lim acted as lookouts.

Yong kicked a rice cooker and pushed the cash register causing them to topple onto the floor. He then swept utensils and various items off the counter onto the floor before breaking the acrylic display boards.

Meanwhile, Chew poured various sauces, and threw various foodstuffs into a large pot of soup, ruining it. Various food items were also thrown over the kitchen floor at the stall.

Various staff members at the food court were too afraid to intervene for fear of reprisals from the four, the court heard.

On Friday, Tan was given three months' jail for being a member of an unlawful assembly. Chew was given five months on two charges, including mischief, while Lim was jailed for four months for being part of an unlawful assembly.

Lee, Yong and Tang will be sentenced next Wednesday (April 26).

The maximum penalty for being in an unlawful assembly is two years' jail and a fine. For mischief, the maximum is two years' jail and a fine.