Highest-ranked Singaporean polo player gets jail for lying in citizenship application

Abdul Sattar Khan, who has been shortlisted to represent Singapore in the SEA Games this November in the Philippines, was sentenced on July 18 to two weeks' jail.
Abdul Sattar Khan, who has been shortlisted to represent Singapore in the SEA Games this November in the Philippines, was sentenced on July 18 to two weeks' jail.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A Pakistan-born polo player, said by his lawyer to be Singapore’s highest-ranked, was sentenced to jail Thursday (July 18)  for giving false information 13 years ago in his application for permanent residency.

The application was granted and two years later, Abdul Sattar Khan, who is currently a polo manager at the Singapore Polo Club, again submitted forged documents when applying to become a Singaporean.

His Singapore citizenship was issued on July 31, 2009.

He was sentenced on Thursday (July 18) to two weeks’ jail after pleading guilty to one count each of an offence under the Immigration Act and another under the Third Schedule of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore, which pertains to citizenship.

Court documents did not state if his citizenship would be affected following his conviction.

On Thursday, his lawyer told the court he has been shortlisted to represent the country in the sport at the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) this November in the Philippines.

According to defence lawyer Thomas Sim, Khan was also the deputy national polo team coach for the 2007 and 2017 SEA Games and has been recognised as the highest ranked polo player in all of Southeast Asia.

Mr Sim told District Judge Mathew Joseph that his client started playing polo at 11 and turned professional six years later.

Khan visited Singapore around 1994, and was invited by the Singapore Polo Club to be a guest umpire and player in a tournament being held at the time.

Impressed by his performance, the club offered him a job as a polo instructor and horse trainer, the court heard.

 

Khan took up the offer and held an employment pass when he started his job the following year. He became a polo manager at the club six years later.

On Thursday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Chong Yun Ling said Khan first applied to become a Singapore PR in 2000.

But he lied in his application form to the ICA, falsely claiming that he had attended Garden East School in Pakistan for his secondary education.

The application was rejected and he tried again on April 6, 2006. This time, he lied that he had attended Ibrahim Ali Bhai Secondary School.

He also enclosed a forged certificate and results, purportedly from the school, to bolster his chances of success.

DPP Chong said that in reality, Khan had attended a village school called the Government Elementally (sic) School Boti Mianwali.

After becoming a Singapore PR, Khan decided to become a citizen and submitted similar false information to the ICA in Kallang Road on Sept 9, 2008. He became a Singapore citizen the following year.

Mr Sim said that the school Khan had attended was a rural one that did not award a formal certificate for the completion of his studies. The lawyer added that Khan had called his father in Pakistan and asked for the older man's help to retrieve information about it.

His father later engaged an agent to obtain a certificate purportedly from the Ibrahim Ali Bhai Secondary School.

The lawyer also said that Khan's son is a Singaporean who has completed his national service. Khan's wife and two daughters are Singapore PRs.

Before handing down the sentence, Judge Joseph noted that Khan had contributed to society. However, he added: "You cannot run away from what you did... The integrity of the immigration system must be maintained."

In a statement on Thursday, the Singapore National Olympic Council said that it had not received nominations from the Equestrian Federation of Singapore for the SEA Games.

Khan is now out on bail of $10,000 and was ordered to surrender himself at the State Courts on July 23 to begin serving his sentence.

For the offence under the Immigration Act, he could have been jailed for up to a year and fined up to $4,000.