Driver jailed for role in alleged escape bid by City Harvest man

A Malaysian freelance driver was given six months' jail yesterday for helping former City Harvest Church (CHC) leader Chew Eng Han in his alleged Feb 21 escape bid.

Khoo Kea Leng, 45, had pleaded guilty to engaging in a conspiracy with Chew to help him leave Singapore from an unauthorised point of departure.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Vincent Ong said the two first met last October and Chew, 57, asked Khoo if he could transport him illegally to Johor Baru. Khoo declined but offered to check with a friend's uncle from Malaysia who might be able to. Khoo asked Chew for a prepayment and was given $200.

DPP Ong said: "The day after they met, the accused told Chew that he could arrange for Chew to leave Singapore with Chew hiding in the boot of a car and quoted a sum of $18,000 for the arrangement. Chew declined the proposal as it was too expensive but continued to remain in contact with the accused."

Chew called Khoo again on Feb 20 with the same request. Khoo contacted his Malaysian friend, Tan Kim Ho, 42, also known as Rayson, who replied that he knew somebody who could perform the task.

Khoo told Chew and they agreed on a price of $12,000, to be equally divided among Khoo, the boatman and Tan, who is still at large. Chew met Khoo later that day near Block 75 Marine Drive and gave him $8,000. Khoo told him to hand the other $4,000 to the boatman who would take him to Malaysia. Khoo then went to Johor Baru and gave Tan $4,000.

At around 10pm, Singaporean fish farm owner Tan Poh Teck, 53, got a call from a man known as "Lao Bai", who told him to pick Chew up at Changi Village the next day. Tan Poh Teck was told to transport Chew to the waters off Pulau Ubin where Chew would board Lao Bai's boat for Malaysia. Tan Poh Teck was promised $1,000.

On Feb 21 at around 7am, Chew was picked up from his home by his older brother, Chew Eng Soon, 61, who took him to Changi Village. Tan Poh Teck then phoned Chew and asked him to meet at Pulau Ubin instead as police craft had been spotted patrolling the area. Chew took a bumboat to the island before boarding Tan Poh Teck's boat from its main jetty. The pair were travelling east when Police Coast Guard officers caught them just minutes later.

Chew was charged on Feb 22 with leaving Singapore for Malaysia from the jetty, which is not an authorised point of departure. On March 1, he began his jail term of three years and four months for his role in the misuse of millions of dollars in church funds.

The pre-trial conference for the cases involving Chew and Tan Poh Teck will take place on May 3. Chew's brother has not been charged in court.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2018, with the headline 'Driver jailed for role in alleged escape bid by City Harvest man'. Print Edition | Subscribe