Two Singaporeans jailed overseas for drug offences

One gets 30 months in New Zealand; other loses appeal against 4-year term in Australia

Two Singaporeans caught smuggling drugs were jailed in separate cases in New Zealand and Australia.

Sole breadwinner Mohamad Nazjib Abdul Majit said he tried to smuggle 100g of methamphetamine in his underwear because of financial stress related to his business.

He was caught in March last year by Customs officers at Auckland Airport.

In judgment grounds released on Feb 1, New Zealand District Court judge S. Patel said Nazjib's detention and conviction had caused financial hardship and upset his family in Singapore. The judge took this into account when he sentenced Nazjib to 30 months in jail.

Nazjib was contacted by New Zealand-based drug supplier Thomas Cheng via phone and social media. Cheng suggested that Nazjib swallow 200g of the drug to smuggle it into New Zealand for NZ$4,000 (S$4,100) but Nazjib refused.

The judge said: "You now understand the negative consequences of methamphetamine and you say that having regard to seeing the first-hand damage that it has on other people incarcerated along with you."

The court noted that Nazjib was a first offender who would have "considerable difficulty" in serving a jail term in New Zealand as he has no family support there.

The judge gave Nazjib, who could have been jailed for 54 months, a sentence discount of 12 months, given the hardship he would face serving time as a foreigner. Nazjib was given a further discount of 12 months for having pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.

Separately, 59-year-old Lum Fook Loong failed to convince a court in Western Australia that he had helped sell methylamphetamine on two occasions in 2011 because of threats against his family.

Lum helped sell a total of 56g of the white crystal in two deliveries for A$28,500 (S$31,100).

In judgment grounds released last week, the appeal court in Western Australia noted Lum had "intially refused to be involved in the delivery of drugs because he came from Singapore, where dealing in drugs carried the death penalty".

But he claimed he agreed to do so when the principal offender, a man who went by several names including Jacky, threatened his family.

Lum said he owed money over mortgage payments and claimed that Jacky threatened to harm his son if he refused to help deliver the drugs. "He threatened my son. That's the worst thing. I got no choice," he said in court.

But the jury was not convinced by Lum's defence that he had been under duress. He was convicted and jailed for four years by a district court in December 2015.

Following a hearing in December last year, the three-judge Western Australia Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed Lum's appeal against conviction last week.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2017, with the headline 'Two Singaporeans jailed overseas for drug offences'. Print Edition | Subscribe