S'porean gets 8 months' jail for harbouring overstayer who died while trying to avoid arrest

SINGAPORE - A Singaporean man who harboured an overstayer who later died while trying to climb out of a flat to avoid the authorities has been sentenced to eight months' jail.

China national Gong Xiuxian, who entered Singapore on a short-term visit pass, had been an overstayer since 2014.

Chan Kok Keong, 47, claimed that Gong was a friend, adding that he did not check her immigration status because he assumed she was a dependant's pass holder.

Between October 2019 and November 2020, she stayed in a unit Chan rented in Eunos Crescent where she worked as a private masseuse.

In November 2020, while evading arrest by Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officers, who were conducting checks on the Eunos unit, Gong climbed out from the bedroom window and fell to her death.

Gong had stayed at another unit Chan rented at Kembangan Plaza from July 2019 to September that year.

On Friday (May 27), ICA said that for not exercising due diligence to ascertain if Gong's immigration pass was valid when he allowed her to stay at the unit at Eunos Crescent, Chan had committed an offence under the Immigration Act.

"ICA takes a firm stance against any person who harbours immigration offenders. Those who wish to rent their premises must exercise due diligence in checking the status of their prospective foreign tenants," said ICA.

It added that those who wish to rent their premises are required to:

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

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

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

ICA said anyone found guilty of performing only one of these checks or knowingly harbouring 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 or overstayers.

They can be fined up to $6,000 or jailed for up to 12 months, or both.

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