Man sentenced to 3 weeks' jail for lying on travel declaration; he wanted to serve SHN at his residence

Vijeyakumar Z Joseph had gone to Jakarta between Nov 13 and Nov 22, 2020, for a business trip.
Vijeyakumar Z Joseph had gone to Jakarta between Nov 13 and Nov 22, 2020, for a business trip.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - A surveyor for a construction company went to Indonesia but lied on his travel form when he returned to Singapore, declaring that he had arrived from other countries so that he could serve his stay-home notice (SHN) at his residence instead of a dedicated facility.

Vijeyakumar Z Joseph, 58, was sentenced to three weeks' jail by a district court on Monday (June 21) for making a false declaration under the Infectious Diseases Act.

The court heard that Vijeyakumar had gone to Jakarta between Nov 13 and 22 last year for a business trip.

Two days before returning to Singapore, he submitted an application to opt out of serving SHN at a dedicated facility using his Singpass to access the SafeTravel website.

At the time, travellers who had been to Fiji, Finland, Japan, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand or Turkey in the 14 consecutive days prior to departure for Singapore were allowed to opt out of serving SHN at a dedicated facility.

Vijeyakumar declared on the application that he had been to all seven countries, and received an e-mail confirming his application, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Bjorn Tan.

Upon entering Singapore, an Immigration and Checkpoints Authority officer told him that he would have to serve the SHN at a facility but he showed the officer the e-mail confirmation.

The officer then gave him a declaration form for opt-out travellers to declare that he had travelled to no other countries apart from the seven and would serve SHN at his residence either alone or with only household members who had the same travel history and were also serving their SHN.

Vijeyakumar signed and dated the declaration form.

On Nov 25, a checkpoint inspector visited Vijeyakumar's place of residence in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 to find out why he had made a false declaration and inform him that he needed to be relocated to a dedicated facility.

The officer noticed that Vijeyakumar's brother and father were also occupying the unit. They were not serving their SHN.

Vijeyakumar tested negative for Covid-19 while serving his SHN.

DPP Tan urged the court to sentence Vijeyakumar to a jail term of one month, noting that he had clearly intended to make a false declaration. "At the very least, he would have known his father would have been (at the unit) because the unit belongs to his father."

Vijeyakumar's lawyer Amolat Singh urged the court to impose a fine or a jail term of one week, saying that his client is a widower who provides for one of his children, his brother who is unfit for work, as well as his 90-year-old father.

Mr Singh added that his client was frivolous in filling out the application form, noting that he checked all seven countries, and acknowledged that he should have taken the declaration seriously given the context of the pandemic.

In sentencing Vijeyakumar, District Judge Janet Wang said that there was a "measure of premeditation" since he filled out the form two days before his departure.

"(The offence was) certainly not done on the spur of the moment," the judge said.