Seven months' jail for Chinese national who harboured visa overstayers in S'pore

SINGAPORE - He was not the owner of the unit but allowed two women to stay in the Jurong West property. Aware of the vice activities they carried out there, he even helped them to avoid detection by acting as a lookout.

On Wednesday (Nov 24), Chinese national Feng Xiaoming, 34, was sentenced to seven months in jail for harbouring the two women who had overstayed their visas.

The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said during a joint operation with the police on Aug 19, 2019, it found that the two women, both Chinese nationals, had overstayed in Singapore by one to two months.

Further investigations revealed that the pair, Dong Yang and Xie Xiying, were engaged in vice activities.

Feng was arrested on June 16 last year after checks by the ICA showed that he had allowed the two women to stay and knew about their vice activities.

As the caretaker of the unit, he would also conduct repairs and provided Internet access to the occupants.

For not exercising due diligence in checking that Dong's immigration pass was valid during her stay in the unit, Feng was found guilty of harbouring an immigration offender under the Immigration Act.

His charge for harbouring Xie was withdrawn by ICA and he was handed a discharge amounting to an acquittal. Both women have been given stern warnings for their overstaying.

The ICA reiterated its firm stance against those who harbour immigration offenders.

Landlords housing foreign tenants must ensure that they have valid work permits or visas by:

1. Checking the tenant's original immigration or work pass

2. Cross-checking the particulars of the pass against the tenant's passport

3. Verifying the validity of the tenant's pass with the issuing authority - the Ministry of Manpower for work and the ICA for immigration

Landlords who recklessly - defined as performing only one of the checks - or intentionally harbour illegal immigrants or overstayers can be jailed for up to two years and fined up to $6,000.

Those who are found to have completed only two of the three checks can be deemed guilty of negligently harbouring illegal immigrants and can be fined up to $6,000 or jailed for up to 12 months, or both.