|www.corpun.com : Archive : 2005 : SG Judicial Mar 2005|
Corpun file 15413 at www.corpun.com
The Straits Times, Singapore, 22 March 2005
Jailed for trying to smuggle illegals out
Malaysian first to be convicted under new Singapore laws; he gets six strokes as well
By Selina Lum
IN A first for the courts here, a man was yesterday convicted of trying to smuggle immigration offenders out of Singapore.
L. Magendtheran Letchamanan, 20, was sentenced to 30 months' jail and ordered to be given six strokes of the cane.
The unemployed Malaysian was convicted under tougher new immigration laws introduced in January. Previously, the Immigration Act only provided for the offence of smuggling immigration offenders into Singapore.
On Jan 22, enforcement officers from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) stopped Magendtheran's car at the departure section of Woodlands Checkpoint.
During an inspection, they found four women crouched and sweating profusely in the boot and two men hiding in the back seat of the car, covered with a carpet.
All six - three women from China, a man from Myanmar and a man and a woman from Thailand - were arrested, along with Magendtheran.
Investigations revealed that four of them had entered Singapore on social visit passes to look for work, but remained here when their passes expired.
The other two had been barred from coming into Singapore after being repatriated for illegal entry, but they had entered the country again - one by using a passport that had been tampered with, and the other by boat.
But they had trouble finding jobs here and had decided to leave the country.
They contacted friends to find out how to escape.
Separately, they were instructed to make their way to Kranji MRT station on Jan 22, where they would be directed to a car that would ferry them out of the country.
Magendtheran, who was offered the job to bring the illegals out by a man named Velu, was promised RM300 (S$128) for each successful trip.
On that day, Velu called him on his mobile phone, telling him to drive from Johor Baru to a fast-food restaurant.
But before he entered Singapore, Velu changed the plan. He called him again and directed him to Kranji MRT station instead.
There, Magendtheran met another Malaysian man, named Vasoo, and the illegals.
Vasoo told the illegals to board the car, then drove to a dirt path in Marsiling. There, he ordered the four women to get into the boot and hid the two men in the back seat.
Vasoo then drove to the fast-food restaurant, handed the car over to Magendtheran and told him to wait for instructions.
Later, Velu called Magendtheran and told him to drive to Malaysia via the Woodlands Checkpoint.
The six immigration offenders, aged 26 to 41, have been convicted and were given varying sentences for overstaying, illegal entry or unlawful return.
Velu and Vasoo are still at large.
Corpun file 15415 at www.corpun.com
The Straits Times, Singapore, 25 March 2005
37 illegals living in monsoon drains nabbed
By Rachel Chan
FROM the outside, it looked like any other network of underground monsoon drains. However, unknown to most, the maze of drains in Old Tampines Road was home to 37 immigration offenders from Myanmar.
The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) had kept the drains under surveillance for two months before launching a raid at 3am on Tuesday.
The team of 68 ICA and police officers entered the drains from two directions, surprising a sentry, who was arrested before he had time to warn his sleeping compatriots.
The officers encountered the first group of offenders about 200m inside the drains. Another five groups, who lived further in, were also caught off-guard.
Most did not put up a fight. Some tried to escape via the numerous manholes, but they were caught by officers stationed at possible escape routes.
The wet and muddy hideout was surprisingly well appointed. It was well-stocked with items such as cooking utensils, stoves, instant noodles, eggs, tubes of toothpaste and toothbrushes.
Candles were the main source of light, while beds were fashioned out of discarded doors and planks.
There seemed to be no problems with pests and the manholes provided an effective ventilation system.
The inhabitants had even put a filtration system in place, damming areas higher up in the drain using sand-filled plastic bags, which allowed clean water to flow through.
The 37 males arrested were aged between 19 and 40. Some were odd-job labourers, while others were unemployed. Investigations showed that 36 of them were illegal immigrants, while one had overstayed in Singapore by about a year.
On Wednesday, 36 of them were charged in court. Thirty-five were given sentences ranging from one month in jail and four strokes of the cane to two months in jail and six strokes of the cane.
One man was not charged on medical grounds, as he had a hernia.
The offender who overstayed was sentenced to 10 months in prison and five strokes of the cane.
The penalty for overstaying or illegal entry is a jail term of up to six months and a minimum three strokes of the cane.
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