Father who lied about address during Pri 1 registration gets fine instead of jail

The man had indicated his address as being within 1km to 2km of a brand-name school when he registered his daughter.
The man had indicated his address as being within 1km to 2km of a brand-name school when he registered his daughter.PHOTO: ST GRAPHICS

SINGAPORE - A father initially sentenced to two weeks' jail for lying about where he lived to get his daughter into a prestigious primary school, was on Friday handed the maximum $5,000 fine instead, after he appealed to the High Court.

The prosecution, which had sought jail for the 35-year-old in the State Courts earlier this year, did not oppose his appeal for a fine.

This change in sentencing position came after prosecutors were made aware of four similar cases between 1995 and 2004 in which the lying parents were given the maximum fine, which was $1,000 before it was raised in 2008 to $5,000.

The man is not named to protect the identity of his daughter. Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Teo Lu Jia told the court that the girl will be transferred out from the school.

The current case took place during the 2013 Pri 1 registration exercise. Separately, the DPP said that the Ministry of Education (MOE) had made four police reports for alleged false information offences in last year's Primary 1 registration exercise. Investigations are ongoing for two of the cases. No further action has been taken for one, while in the last case, the address was not a key consideration for admission.

In the current case, the man had indicated his address as being within 1km to 2km of the brand-name school when he registered his daughter under Phase 2C of the Primary 1 registration exercise in 2013. This allowed his daughter to secure a place.

His identity card showed the same address, but the man actually lived in Balestier Road, which fell outside the priority radius.

The address he provided belonged to his uncle's sister, and had been rented out.

His subterfuge came to light when MOE officers visited the place.

Earlier this year, he pleaded guilty to one count of giving false information to the school's principal in July 2013. A second charge of lying to a police sergeant 10 days earlier to change the address on his identity card was taken into consideration.

The punishment for providing false information to a public servant is up to a year's jail, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

MOE has set a new rule, which applies to children entering primary school next year, requiring those who have gained admission under the home-school distance priority scheme to live at the address for at least 30 months from the start of the registration exercise. Previously there was no specific length of time set.