South Korean fined over false information in SHN declaration

·Senior Reporter
·4-min read
Singapore's State Courts seen on 21 April 2020. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)
Singapore's State Courts seen on 21 April 2020. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — A man who opted to serve his Stay-Home Notice (SHN) at home but allowed movers into his home was fined $7,000 on Tuesday (29 June).

Ko Kyung Ho, a 46-year-old South Korean and Singapore permanent resident, pleaded guilty to a charge of providing false information in his SHN declaration, with one count of allowing nine movers into his household taken into consideration for his sentencing. 

Ko worked in South Korea while his wife and two children, aged 12 and 18, stayed in Singapore. Ko would visit Singapore a few times a year to be with his family. According to court documents, Ko had studied English at Stanford University.

Before he returned to Singapore late last year, he and his wife engaged the service of movers to move his family's items on 26 November last year.

Ko later filled in an application to serve his 14-day SHN in his place of residence rather than in a dedicated facility. 

Upon his return to Singapore on 25 November last year, he was referred to an Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officer who verified the details of his SHN. Another ICA officer explained to him the conditions involved for persons who opted to serve their SHN at their residence rather than a facility. Ko also had the terms and conditions explained to him.

As part of his requirements, Ko acknowledged that he would occupy a residence alone or with household members with the same travel history, and are serving their SHN in the same period. 

He also acknowledged that no one who did not have the same travel history would stay in his chosen place of residence for the period of his SHN.

As part of the declaration form, he acknowledged that he could be prosecuted for false information. 

Ko had not mentioned that his family members – his wife and two children – would be staying at his declared place of residence. His three family members had planned to move to his residence on 26 November. 

Ko was then briefed on remaining in the declared place of residence alone during his SHN and on contacting the SHN hotline to seek approval if he needed to see a doctor or change contact details during the SHN period. 

Ko was not given any approval to allow movers or the rest of this family to enter or reside in his SHN residence. 

Ko's wife and son received him at the airport and they then took separate transport to meet him at the residence. His son stayed overnight, in breach of his SHN requirements. 

On 26 November, two SATS officers who were assigned to carry out house visits on persons serving their SHN were tasked to visit Ko's declared place of residence. 

The two officers arrived at 2.30pm and saw Ko, his wife and two children in the living room, with house movers transferring furniture, household items, and boxes into the residence. 

The officers asked Ko if he was staying alone, and Ko replied that he stayed with his wife and two children. They recorded the names of the family members and told the movers to stop work. 

ICA officers later visited the residence and saw Ko and his family at the apartment, where nine movers were shifting remaining items into the place. These movers were unaware that Ko had been serving his SHN. 

According to the prosecution, the movers would not have taken on the assignment had they been aware. They were at the residence for two hours and 15 minutes. 

Ko was escorted to Intercontinental Hotel to serve out his SHN. According to his lawyer Adrian Wee, Ko did not contract COVID-19. 

Deputy Public Prosecutor Joshua Lim sought the maximum fine of $10,000, classifying the case as "low harm and low culpability".

Wee sought a fine of $7,000. He said that on previous occasions that Ko had served his SHN, it was with his family at their residence. 

This formed the basis of his expectation to serve his SHN with his family, said Wee, who added that his client now accepts that the rules had changed.

While being served by an ICA officer at the airport, Ko had showed the officer a tenancy agreement listing his wife and children as occupants. 

"The submission I am making is not that he did not know that the declaration was false, but that he underestimated the truth of his declaration. He accepts that that was wrong and is completely in agreement that a penalty should be levied on him. He is filled with remorse," said Wee. 

His client had not tried to deceive anyone and had kept himself isolated behind sliding doors when approached by enforcement officers. 

"I am instructed to reiterate that he is very sorry for the offence. He is regretful and he is also grateful to the prosecution for how it has dealt with his matter," said Wee. 

Ko could have been jailed up to six months and/or fined up to $10,000 for breaching his SHN. 

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