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     Immigration - News 2002

Expatriates     Employment Pass     Permanent Residence     Student Pass

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     NEWS SNIPPETS

     2002

  

  From 1 Nov 2002, foreign students enrolling in full-time undergraduate and postgraduate courses can now keep their passes for one year, instead of six months. If they maintain a good disciplinary record, they have to renew their passes only once after their first year, after which they can keep it for the rest of their course. There will also be no need for security deposits, which range from S$1,000 to S$5,000. Students from China can now submit their applications for a pass directly to Singapore Immigration and Registration (SIR) instead of doing it back home. (Straits Times 1 Nov 2002) (H8)

  Singapore has cut down the time needed for Chinese nationals to get a business visa from two week to three working days as part of its plan to ride on China's growing economic prowess. Other changes include letting businessmen from China stay here for two years or longer. They could only do so for only one year before. Tourists from China can also get multi-entry passes to stay here for up to two weeks, instead of four days, as long as they arrive and leave together. Singapore hopes to draw one million tourists from China by 2005. A total of 336,000 visited Singapore in the first six months of 2002, 43 per cent more than the same period in 2001. (Straits Times 3 Oct 2002) (1)

  Two men, both Chinese nationals, were arrested on Monday for the murder of chauffeur LAU Kiew Kong, 73, who was found bound and gagged in his Bedok North flat on Aug 21. Police also arrested woman, also a Chinese national, in connection with the killing. (Straits Times 4 Sep 2002) (H1) 

  A construction site supervisor was yesterday jailed for 5 years for taking nearly S$250,000 in earnings of workers he supervised under the guise of remitting the money to China. He even issued bogus receipts to the workers. Danny Nicholas HO Kok leong, 35, took the earnings of the workers between January and April this year. (Straits Times 29 Aug 2002) (H8)

  An Indian national was caught smuggling 1,092 star tortoises, an endangered species, into Singapore on Wednesday. Chinnamotur Loganathan Ashokavarthanan, 27, was fined S$5,000 and jailed eight weeks yesterday. The tortoises, worth about S$54,000, will be sent back to India later this month. (Straits Times 3 Aug 2002) (H4)

  A Chinese national was yesterday jailed for six months for submitting false claims against remittance agent Wen Long Money Changer. LI Long Gen, 34, a plasterer, handed in a remittance receipt from Wen Long Money Changer for 9,000 yuan (S$1,948) and claimed his family in Jiangsu did not receive the money. But police found that he had tampered with the receipt. He had changed the date from Nov 22 2001 to Jan 22 this year. (Straits Times 6 Jul 2002) (H7)

  Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement: India & Pakistan agencies

  Last year, 384 unskilled foreign workers were caught for passing themselves off as professionals and executives. This was a 55-per-cent increase over 247 in 2000. They were found during an audit of 152 firms, said the Manpower Ministry yesterday. (Straits Times 29 May 2002) (H2)

  More than 73,000 visitors who came here in 2000 engaged in arts and entertainment, almost double the 41,000 who did so in 1999. (Straits Times 28 May 2002) (4)

  Foreigners already living in Singapore will not be covered by a new taxpayer scheme announced in the Budget last week to attract more foreign talent to the Republic, according to tax experts. This is because in order to qualify as a Not Ordinarily Resident (NOR) taxpayer, a foreigner cannot have been a Singapore tax resident in the three years of assessment before the year that he first qualifies for the scheme. However, he ahs to be a tax resident for the year of assessment in which he wishes to take advantage of the scheme. (Straits Times 9 May 2002) (A17)

  Singapore citizens can apply for or renew their passports on the Internet through the Application for Passport Online Electronic System which also allows them to make payment online via credit card. The online registration fee for renewing or applying for a passport is S$60, S$10 cheaper than for applications made over the counter at the SIR. They can also attach a digital photograph to the online application form. But they must turn up in person to collect their new passport after three working days. (Straits Times 3 May 2002) (3) 

  Nearly half of over 1,000 China workers allegedly fleeced by their remittance agent, the now-defunct Wen Long Moneychanger, have won court orders to get S$4.7 million out of its partners, LAM Chen Fong, 29, and Madam HO Sook Tin, 75. The amount represents more than half the S$8.8 million which LAM Chen Fong allegedly pocketed from the workers in December 2001 and January 2002. (Straits Times 3 Apr 2002) (3)

  Two new checkpoints for Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) clearance have been set up at Clifford Pier and the West Coast Ferry Terminal. The facilities, which started operating on Monday, will enable customs officers to check and clear crew members and Singaporeans returning from ships anchored in Singapore waters. (Straits Times 19 Apr 2002) (H2)

  The High Court yesterday ordered one of the two partners of Wen Long Money Changer, which is being sued by 460 Chinese construction workers for S$4.7 million, to cough up S$1.9 million. Madam HO Sook Tin, 75, who owns a S$1.6-million semi-detached house with her husband, will have to give that money to 170 of the Chinese nationals. Mr Leonard LOO, the workers' lawyer, said that yesterday's ruling meant that he could seek a court order for Madam HO to pay the money from her declared assets. The workers could get their money in as little as six weeks. (Straits Times 11 Apr 2002) (4)

  Student-care centre owner Madam LIM Moi Lee, 38, is facing a possible lawsuit by at least 20 Chinese students who have accused her of taking at least a year's advance rent for their flats, but failing to hand it over to their landlords. They also say that she refused to give them refunds after they were evicted. The Chinese Embassy has hired a lawyer to help the students get their money back from her. Yesterday, Madam LIM told The Straits Times that she had engaged her own lawyer. (Straits Times 26 Mar 2002) (6)

  More than 20 Chinese students have fallen prey to a Singaporean woman who offered them choice accommodation at cheap rates. They had paid up to 18 months' rent in advance, but later found out that she had not paid the landlords, who were then forced to evict them. A Chinese Embassy official said he had received 12 similar complaints since September last year about the same woman. The students, who were aged about 17 to 18, lost about S$35,000. (Straits Times 19 Mar 2002) (6)

  In the first ten weeks of this year, 11 of the 16 bogus monks and nuns arrested for asking for alms were foreigners, said the Community Development and Sports Ministry. That is equal to the total picked up for begging last year. Some have lots of money on them. One woman had more than S$3,000 on her, while another was carrying more than S$1,000. All were referred to the Singapore Immigration and Registration (SIR) authorities. A Singapore Buddhist Federation spokesman said, "These fakes claim to be from Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia and China, and offer to perform religious rites to ward off bad luck, and tell fortunes as well." "As Buddhists, we do not perform these rites at all, and people get taken in because they do not know," he added. People who meet such imposters should contact the federation at (65) 6744 4635. (Straits Times 17 Mar 2002) (27)

  New curbs on unskilled foreign workers from countries other than Malaysia will be in place from June 1, the Manpower Ministry (MOM) said yesterday. MOM's target is for Singapore's reliance on foreign labour to reach 70 per cent of the 1999 foreign-worker levels by 2005; and 50 per cent by 2010. (Straits Times 14 Mar 2002) (H4)

  The grisly remains of two charred bodies have been found on a flourishing vegetable farm in Lim Chu Kang. The men had been stabbed and then burnt in the cabin of a disused vehicle inside a shed. The bodies were placed in sacks and brought to an open patch of vegetation some 200 m away, where they were buried in a shallow grave. The victims are believed to be illegal immigrants of South Asian descent, probably Bangladeshis. (Straits Times 6 Mar 2002) (H11)

  Home Affairs Minister WONG Kan Seng yesterday said that the Chinese workers who staged a small demonstration on Saturday should abide by the law and not stir up more trouble by holding a street protest. Said Mr WONG, "I sympathise with the workers. But it is not easy to completely, fully investigate the 1,000 cases in the short time they expect." (Straits Times 4 Mar 2002) (H2)

  In a scene rarely seen in Singapore, riot police were deployed outside Parliament House yesterday to break up a protest staged by a group of Chinese nationals. The workers were there to express their unhappiness over the speed of investigations into 29-year-old remittance agent LAM Chen Fong, who allegedly pocketed S$7 million belonging to more than 1,000 Chinese nationals here while working as a partner in Wen Long Money Changer. (Straits Times 3 Mar 2002) (3)

  Police have arrested two Thai women clad in Buddhist nuns' clothes for begging. They were caught soliciting for alms at about 5.45pm on Tuesday near the Clementi MRT station. The women, aged 30 and 34, had arrived here last Saturday on 14-day social visit passes. (Straits Times 28 feb 2002)(H6)

 

All business and residential telephone numbers in Singapore will have a new prefix "6" from 1 Mar 2002. Our new telephone numbers are 62824221 and 62814785 (fax).

 

  A Sri Lankan con-artist who pretended to be a Singapore police officer and immigration officer tricked four tourists of US$17,000 (S$31,195) by saying he could help them clear immigration. Mohamed Nuwair Mohamed Shakir Hussain, 25, preyed on three of his countrymen and a Pakistani at Changi Airport last month, almost immediately after they had arrived in the country. Yesterday, he was jailed for 45 months after he pleaded guilty to four charges of cheating. (Straits Times 15 Feb 2002)(H2)

  The moneychanger accused of pocketing S$7 million from about 1,000 foreign workers was yesterday slapped with 99 charges. LAM Chen Fong, 29, was accused of siphoning off more than S$770,000 belonging to 99 Chinese nationals. The money was meant to be remitted to the victims' families. LAM, a partner in Wen Long Money Changer at City Plaza in Geylang, allegedly committed the offences between last Dec 20 and Jan 25 this year. (Straits Times 8 Feb 2002)(H3)

  Those who use false declarations or documents to enter Singapore must be jailed, said Chief Justice YONG Pung How in a written ruling on Abu Syeed Chowdhury, 34, a Bangladeshi who lied that he was a university graduate when he applied for an employment pass here and several times after that. On Jan 9, the CJ doubled Abu Syeed's two-month jail term to four months. CJ YONG said that fining such immigration offenders, whom he called "profiteers", would be a mere slap on the wrist. A firm sentencing guideline must be set so that a strong deterrent message is sent out that entering Singapore by deception does not pay. (Straits Times 31 Jan 2002)(H3)

  Police yesterday arrested a 29-year-old moneychanger who is alleged to have taken about S$7 million from more than 1,000 foreign workers. The money was meant to be remitted to their home countries. The man, a partner in the Wen Long Money Changer firm at City Plaza in Geylang, had specialised in collecting remittances from Chinese nationals working here. A police spokesman said more than 300 reports about the moneychanger had been received. Yesterday, the Monetary Authority of Singapore ordered the firm to shut down and revoked its licences to function as a remittance agent and a money changer. (Straits Times 31 Jan 2002) (3)

  A Chinese national who tried to bribe a policeman when she was discovered to have no travel papers was jailed for two months yesterday. YU Mei Ya, 31, pleaded guilty to bribery. In her mitigation plea, YU said that she thought Singapore was like China where, if a person is "accosted" by the uniformed authorities, the suspect can leave after paying money. (Straits Times 1 Jan 2002) (H3)

  2001

  Checks carried out by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) showed that in the first nine months of this year, some 1,015 foreigners were detained, compared to the 1,471 total number arrested over the previous two years. Of the 1,015 arrested this year, 36 per cent were illegal workers, and 26 per cent were social-visit pass holders. (Straits Times 14 Dec 2001)(H7)

  Police on Saturday night nabbed 106 women who were suspected to be working as prostitutes in Orchard Towers. The women arrested, aged between 17 and 40, came from Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, China, Mongolia, Vietnam and Cambodia. (Straits Times 3 Nov 2001) (H6)

  Under a special rehabilitation scheme, a small selected group of immigration offenders are allowed to work as cleaners at some 25 food courts here after serving their jail terms of between one and four months. They are paid between S$60 and S$120 for each day's work. The money is used to pay for their repatriation. They can also save part of the salary as pocket money to take home. (Straits Times 10 Nov 2001)(3)

  Nearly 40 foreign workers were found last week working illegally as cleaners for contractors engaged by the Tampines Town Council. Manpower Ministry (MOM) inspectors found 39 workers without valid permits working at Blocks 101 to 398 and Blocks 501 to 946 in Tampines when it conducted checks on Tuesday last week. Eighteen were immigration offenders, said the police. Seventeen had entered Singapore illegally and one had overstayed. The others held work permits for other sectors: 19 for construction and one for marine work. Another was here on a special pass. (Straits Times 5 Sep 2001)(H2)

  Fifteen illegal workers were caught trying to leave Singapore in two secret compartments at the back of a cargo lorry, the largest single group of illegal workers detected this year. The eight women and seven men were gasping for breath in the poorly-ventilated compartments when they were discovered on Monday night by immigration officers at the Woodlands checkpoint. (Straits Times 30 May 2001)

  A man allowed an an immigration offender to stay in his flat at Blk 113 Tao Ching Road in Jurong in August 2000. Yesterday TAN Chuan Tin, 50, was jailed for seven months for harbouring LI Jianhua, 37, an overstayer. (Straits Times 30 May 2001)

  A 72-year-old woman rented out her house in Joo Chiat to Chinese immigration offenders, charging them between S$130 and S$150 a month. TAN Siew Yoke was sentenced to six months' jail yesterday. (Straits Times 24 May 2001)

  Forty-five illegal workers were rounded up at two factories in Defu Lane yesterday afternoon after inspectors from the Manpower Ministry conducted surprise raids. Another lightning raid at an S11 coffeeshop at Block 107, Hougang Ave 1, found another 25 who were working illegally as stall assistants, cleaners and cooks. Among them were 10 illegal immigrants who were referred to the police. Seven were social-visit pass holders, five had invalid work permits and three had special passes. These are foreigners allowed to stay here but not to work as they are under police investigation. (Straits Times 18 May 2001)

  A contractor who hired an illegal immigrant from China had his jail term doubled to a year in the High Court on 15 May 2001. CHIA Kang Meng, 51, was sentenced to a year in prison after the prosecution appealed successfully against the original sentence of six months. Chia had employed WANG Yong Yun for 15 days between July and August in 1999, to lay tiles in a flat that he was renovating in Sims Drive. WANG Showed CHIA a photocopy of a work permit which was not his. CHIA kept the photocopy and told WANG that he should identify himself as a Malaysian, rather than as a China national. (Straits Times 16 May 2001)

  Ministry of Foreign Affairs moves to new premises on 8 May 2001.

  A man was jailed on 6 Apr 2001 for seven months after he admitted to harbouring a Chinese illegal immigrant at his Clementi flat in February 2001. CHEW Seng Heng, 36, had agreed to rent a room to HE Yi Min, 32, at S$120 a month. The court heard that HE had shown Chew a photocopy of his work permit. But CHEW did not verify the potential tenant's entry status, nor did he take due care and diligence before allowing HE to stay in his flat. The maximum penalty for harbouring or employing immigration offenders is two years' jail and a S$6,000 fine. (Straits Times 7 Apr 2001)

  An employer of an illegal Bangladeshi immigrant was jailed on 6 Apr 2001 for 21 months for harbouring and employing him. LIM Eng Hwee, 41, a director of Kiat Laundry Services, pleaded guilty to committing the two immigration offences between 5 Feb and 1 Mar 2000. (Straits Times 7 Apr 2001)

  Singapore and Malaysia are close to implementing a smart-card clearance system to replace passports for cross-border travel between the two countries. Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi said on 2 Apr 2001 that preparations to introduce the smart card had been completed - but no date had been set to put it into practice yet. (Straits Times 3 Apr 2001)

  Nearly 12,400 people were caught last year trying to sneak cigarettes into Singapore without paying duty on them. In 1999, the Customs and Excise Department picked up about 9,500 such people. More than 90% of them tried to bring in one or two packets of cigarettes without paying tax. Mr LEE Kok Fatt, the department's head of public relations said that the quantity of cigarettes seized has dropped by almost half, from about 24,000 kg in 1999 to almost 13,800 kg in 2000. The government has been raising the tax on tobacco products gradually over the years. It was increased from S$130 per kg of tobacco to S$150 in February 2000 and to S$180 in February 2001. The latest rise in tobacco taxes means that consumers are paying S$3.60 in duty on every pack of 20 cigarettes they buy. This is 20% more than before. (Straits Times 20 Mar 2001)

  590 people were arrested for harbouring illegal immigrants last year, a big jump from the 306 arrested in 1999 and 166 caught in 1998. The number of estate agents arrested increased from three in 1999 to 10 in 2000. There was just one such arrest in 1998. These figures were given in Parliament on 23 Feb 2001 by Associate Professor HO Peng Kee, Minister of State (Law & Home Affairs). Real estate agents are not required to check prospective tenants, which is why so few have been arrested. But the law is being revised to hold them responsible if they play a part in renting out properties to immigration offenders. The number of employers caught for hiring immigration offenders rose to 572 in 2000 from 388 in 1999 and 270 in 1998. (Straits Times 24 Feb 2001)
  A 72-year-old widow was on 29 Jan 2001 sentenced to seven months in jail for harbouring illegal immigrants in a Geylang shophouse. ONG Hock Sung, who was a tenant of the shophouse, had sub-let the place to foreigners at S$150 a month each.  (Straits Times 30 Jan 2001)
  An average of 41 people were arrested each month, between January and March 2000, for harbouring immigration offenders. And from April to December 2000, it went up to 52 a month, said Home Affairs Minister WONG Kan Seng in Parliament on Friday 12 Jan 2001. Last year, about 42% of those arrested were not charged in court. And for those who were charged, more than 80% were convicted. (Straits Times 14 Jan 2001)

 

The Singapore Immigration and Registration (SIR) has issued a statement saying that visitors who hold passports from:

Iran, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan (from 12 Oct 2001 onwards)

Somalia (from 26 Jan 2002 onwards)

 will need visas to enter Singapore. They can apply for one from any of the Singapore missions abroad. With the six additions, the number of countries whose citizens need a visa to enter Singapore is 34.

     2000

  In the first 10 months of 2000, 14,275 illegal immigrants and overstayers were arrested. Most of the illegal immigrants came in through the Woodlands checkpoint, hiding in secret compartments in vehicles or packed into car boots. Most of the illegals come from India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand and China. Arrests of human traffickers are up. As of October 2000, the Singapore Immigration and Registration (SIR) has nabbed 71 of them, compared to 60 for the whole of 1999. (Straits Times 13 Dec 2000)

  Singapore Immigration & Registration steps up checks for illegal immigrants

  16 illegal foreign workers were nabbed in the FoodFest Foodcourt at Millenia Walk in a 30-minute raid on 3 Aug 2000. Seven were immigration offenders - illegal immigrants and overstayers. The rest did not have valid work permits. In the first half of this year, the Ministry of Manpower's Employment Inspectorate caught 323 illegal workers in 229 surprise inspections in the food-catering sector. Immigration offenders make up 38% of those arrested and social visit pass holders form 31%.

  The first of 12 families split up because a spouse was a foreigner who had contracted the Aids virus, has been reunited. Ten more are waiting to come home after the authorities approved their return. The foreigners were repatriated under the Immigration Act. Amended in October 1998, it states that non-citizens who are "suffering from Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus" are classified as "prohibited immigrations". But, in May, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it would allow the HIV-infected spouses to return.