SINGAPORE – A Singaporean man who lost his passport while overstaying in China paid a friend US$20,000 (S$26,900) to help him obtain another passport as he wanted to return to Singapore to visit family members who were ill.
Leng Choun Keong, 50, did so as he was afraid that Chinese authorities would catch him and punish him for overstaying.
He later received a Ugandan passport for “Leng Christopher” bearing his photograph which stated that he was a Ugandan born in Malaysia.
On Jan 8 last year, Leng travelled to Singapore and produced the passport to an immigration officer at Changi Airport.
He was caught after he approached the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority in Singapore on Oct 14 last year over some “citizenship services”, which were not disclosed in court documents.
On Thursday (Sept 16), he pleaded guilty to one count of producing a “misleading document” to the officer as well as two counts each of offences under the Enlistment Act.
Leng was sentenced to four months’ jail and a fine of $9,000. He will spend an additional 36 days behind bars if he is unable to pay the amount.
The court heard that Leng completed his full-time national service on Dec 13, 1990.
Later, he was issued with three exit permits allowing him to work overseas from June 14, 1995, to April 3, 1998.
Some time in 1995, he used his Singapore passport to travel to China, where he worked as a disc jockey.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Cheah Wenjie said that Leng failed to return to Singapore by the expiry of his last exit permit, but did not apply for a new one.
The court heard that Leng also did not renew his Singapore passport after it expired in 2005 and later lost it. He was also overstaying in China.
Some time in 2018, he decided to return to Singapore as his mother and brother were ill.
Afraid of being punished by the Chinese authorities, Leng approached a friend, known only as “Fredrick”, and asked for his help to get another passport, which he used to travel to Singapore.
After he was caught, he was referred to the Central Manpower Base for investigations.
For producing a misleading document to an immigration officer, he could have been jailed for up to two years and fined up to $6,000.
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