Homeless man worked as security officer despite being on SHN

·Senior Reporter
·4-min read
The Singapore State Courts. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)
The Singapore State Courts. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — Instead of serving a 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN) issued to him in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, a man lived on the streets and in a homeless shelter. 

He also continued reporting for work as a night-shift security officer nearly everyday that he was supposed to be under the SHN.

Rozman Abdul Rahman, 40, was jailed for seven weeks on Thursday (2 December) after having earlier pleaded guilty in April to one count of breaching his SHN requirements. His sentencing was delayed after he underwent a separate hearing in relation to his SHN.

Rozman indicated through his lawyer that he might be appealing his sentence.

The Singaporean had returned home from Batam on 20 March last year – four days after the general SHN requirement for travellers came into effect.

He arrived at the Singapore Cruise Center via ferry in the evening but refused to sign an SHN. He insisted that all travellers were supposed to be issued an SHN only from 11.59pm that day. But the Singapore government had mandated that all travellers arriving from 11.59pm on 16 March last year had to serve an SHN.

“The accused maintained that the SHN should only be issued to travellers returning from China and the European Union, and not Singaporeans or Permanent Residents,” said the prosecution.

A senior officer from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority had to show Rozman the Ministry of Health (MOH) website. When asked why he did not want to serve an SHN, Rozman claimed that he did not stay in Singapore but in Malaysia, and travelled between the two countries for work.

Asked by an ICA officer where he would stay to serve his SHN, Rozman claimed that he would stay at his step-sister’s house. He wrote down his step-sister’s address in Punggol as his designated SHN venue.

Rozman also asked if there was any way he could avoid serving the SHN. The officer replied that Rozman could return to Batam but Rozman declined. Eventually, Rozman acknowledged and signed the receipt of the SHN.

Between 20 March and 3 April last year – the period of his SHN – he lived on the streets, in a multistorey carpark near Chinatown Point and a walkway near Vivocity before moving to a homeless shelter.

He reported to work daily from 20 to 30 March and from 1 to 3 April as a night-shift security officer at Grocery Logistic of Singapore. Rozman’s manager stated that Rozman had not informed the company that he was on an SHN.

During his night shift, Rozman was paired with another security guard. 

Rozman’s breach was discovered on 3 April when COVID-19 enforcement officers visited his step-sister’s unit to find out that he was not there. The woman had not been in contact with her step-brother.

After being unable to contact and locate Rozman, the officers contacted his employer and found that Rozman had been working.

Previously, Rozman had undergone a Newton hearing over his allegations that an ICA officer told him to “just write an address” on the SHN declaration form as an SHN was “not so serious”. He also claimed that he told ICA officers that he could not go to his declared address. The judge found that these allegations were false.

In mitigation, Rozman’s pro bono lawyer Azri Imran Tan said that his client had to come back to Singapore to report to work out of necessity.

“In the midst of a worldwide crisis, Rozman was left with a personal crisis of his own – homelessness. He had no place of residence. He was left to fend on the streets,” said the lawyer.

“In a cruel twist of irony, he has now been charged with and has pleaded guilty to breaching the requirements of a (SHN) – when he had no home to go to.”

Tan argued for a combination of a short detention order and a day reporting order for his client, or a fine in the alternative, while the prosecution argued for a seven-week jail term.

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