Chinese national banned from entering Singapore worked here illegally for 15 years

SINGAPORE - A 58-year-old Chinese national lived and worked in Singapore illegally for 15 years from 2007 to 2022 despite being banned from entering the country since 2006.

Yan Jinfa was on Wednesday sentenced to a year in jail and fined $3,000 after he pleaded guilty to two charges under the Immigration Act.

The court heard that Yan was deported from Singapore in November 2006, after he was caught entering Singapore without a valid pass.

He had been sentenced to three months’ jail and five strokes of the cane for that offence, and was prohibited from entering Singapore without permission from the immigration authorities from then.

In November 2007, Yan hatched a plan to work in Singapore illegally. He approached an agent in China and disclosed to the agent that he could not enter Singapore without a permission letter.

The agent said he could not help him to enter Singapore and proposed instead to get him to Malaysia for 10,000 yuan (worth about S$1,950 then).

Yan agreed and arrived in Malaysia on Nov 24, 2007.

A few days later, he sought help from a Singaporean friend to enter Singapore. The friend offered to get him here on a motorboat for $20,000, which Yan accepted.

In December that year, Yan arrived in Singapore. He paid his friend $15,000 and worked for him as a carpenter at a furniture factory to pay off the balance before moving on to other jobs.

Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officers arrested Yan in the vicinity of Tampines Industrial Park A on Dec 19, 2022, after he could not produce evidence that he was in Singapore legally.

Court documents did not state how his offences came to light.

In mitigation, Yan said he is remorseful for what he has done and wishes to return to China as soon as possible to care for his 98-year-old mother.

“Recently, my right ring finger was amputated accidentally at work and this affected my nerves, resulting in frequent fainting spells,” he said.

Responding to queries on how Yan had avoided detection for 15 years, the ICA said it continues to keep the immigration offender situation under control through enforcement and biometric technology. “In addition to border control measures at the checkpoints, ICA also mounts regular enforcement operations inland to detect and remove such offenders from Singapore,” it added.

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