SINGAPORE — A licensed debt collector who wore a Chinese funeral outfit and carried a banner of the debtor’s face to harass him at his workplace was sentenced to five weeks’ jail on Wednesday (15 January).
While Peh Chong Wee was outside the victim’s office at Block 4008 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10, he had blown a whistle and shouted loudly. His actions were captured on video.
Peh, 59, pleaded guilty to charges of causing harassment, using threatening behaviour, and using criminal force on an auxiliary police officer.
Other charges, involving Peh harassing the victim at the latter’s Geylang condominium by riding a bicycle carrying a sign of the victim’s face, incense paper and messages, and walking by the condominium with a funeral lantern and blowing a whistle on two separate occasions were considered for sentencing.
The Singaporean was the sole proprietor of Guarantee Debts Collection Service. In April last year, he was engaged by a client to collect a debt at the premises of a company called PSP Solutions Engineering.
Peh harassed the victim, who was the company’s director, at both his house and the office on seven occasions from 27 May to 21 June last year.
On 27 May, at about 1.30pm, Peh and a friend, Koh Yew Ghee, went to PSP’s office to collect the debt. At that time, the company’s human resource manager was working at the front desk. She heard shouting along the corridor outside the premises and opened the door.
Peh and Koh entered the office shouting loudly, asking for the victim. After they were informed that the victim was not in, Peh banged on the table of the front desk forcefully. The HR manager asked the pair to leave, but they refused. Peh then lay down on the floor.
At about 2.09pm, the HR manager called the police, who arrived at the scene while Koh and Peh were still there. The two left shortly after.
However, the duo returned four days later, this time with Peh dressed in a traditional Chinese funeral outfit, carrying a banner showing the victim’s face. The HR manager heard a whistling sound and witnessed their antics.
The banner also had words that demanded that the victim return “hard-earned money”. Peh blew a whistle and shouting loudly while walking along the corridor, with Koh videoing the scene. The HR manager called the police again but the duo left before the police arrived.
Peh was arrested on the same day. While in lockup the next day, Peh insisted that a paper cup be given to him, even after an officer told him a new one would be issued to him. Peh then rushed out of his cell and struggled with an auxiliary police officer, who was holding onto Peh's handcuff.
Video footage captured Peh pushing the officer against the wall. Two officers managed to pin him down after a while.
Peh was subsequently released on station bail.
On 14 June, the District Court issued an Order of Court barring Peh from loitering near the victim’s residence or office. However, Peh ignored the order and repeated his antics a week later.
On 21 June, Peh and another friend, Tan Lee Hwa, headed to PSP to collect the debt. Peh carried banners showing the victim’s face and messages demanding the loan be repaid. He had also pasted paper on the front and back of his shirt which depicted the victim’s face with similar messages. He paraded around the corridor for about 30 seconds.
The HR manager went to check out the commotion and filmed the scene. She called the police again, stating “One guy came to cause trouble. This is not the first time.”
Deputy Public Prosecutor Tay Jia En noted that Peh had repeated the harassment over several days.
Peh’s lawyer Wee Hong Shern said that his client, who is a licensed debt collector, had been forthcoming during investigations.
During Peh’s attempt to make arrangements with the victim to collect the debt, he encountered great difficulty. His attempts to meet the victim were blocked and he was turned away from the victim’s office.
Peh had never encountered such a difficult client before, said the lawyer. As his reputation depended on his efficacy at collecting debts, Peh got “creative”.
His business was his sole source of income which he needed to provide for two young daughters and an ailing mother.
“Under these desperate contexts, he sought to be a little bit more creative and took it too far. He undertakes to not commit the offences again,” said Wee.
The other accused Koh is set to plead guilty to his charges on 30 January.
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