Malaysian man gets 6 months’ jail for illegally harbouring Chinese national

ICA reiterated to check the status of prospective foreign tenants to ensure they are staying in Singapore legally. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A Malaysian man was given a jail term of six months for illegally harbouring a Chinese woman, said the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA).

Woo Chee Kit, 35, and another man, Wang Xiaozeng, a Singaporean, had helped the woman, He Yan, 36, find a rental unit in Oxley Rise, the ICA said in a statement on Tuesday.

Wang, 30, was jailed for 44 weeks on Feb 16, and fined $1,400 for subletting rental units to offenders involved in vice activities.

Both Woo and Wang committed an offence of harbouring an immigration offender under the Immigration Act by not checking He Yan’s identification documents and whether her stay in the country was valid.

He Yan was arrested by ICA officers at a unit in Oxley Rise on Dec 21, 2020, for unlawfully remaining in Singapore after her special pass expired on Oct 5 that year.

A special pass is issued to foreigners for specific purposes, such as helping in investigations, attending court and if the person residing in Singapore is stateless.

ICA investigations found that He Yan had sought Woo’s assistance to find a place to stay.

Woo, who was a work permit holder, told He Yan that he would be able to arrange for her to stay in a rental unit.

He then got Wang and a housing agent to sign a tenancy agreement on her behalf, in return for a one-time fee and monthly service commission.

The agent represented the owner of the unit. Woo told the agent that he would be staying in the unit and named himself the occupier on the agreement.

He Yan agreed to the terms because she was unable to rent a place on her own as an illegal immigrant. She moved into the unit on Nov 1, 2020.

ICA reiterated that people who wish to rent out their premises need to check the status of prospective foreign tenants to ensure they are staying in Singapore legally.

Anyone renting out their premises should also check the tenant’s original immigration or work pass, cross-check details against the pass and original passport and verify the validity of the pass by checking with the issuing authority.

The Ministry of Manpower issues work passes and ICA issues immigration passes like the student’s pass and long-term visit pass.

Anyone found guilty of recklessly and knowingly harbouring overstayers and/or illegal immigrants can be sentenced to a jail term of at least six months and up to two years, and fined at least $6,000.

Anyone found guilty of negligently harbouring overstayers and/or illegal immigrants can be fined at least $6,000 and sentenced to a prison term of at least a year, or both.

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