SINGAPORE: A Malaysian man who illegally stayed in Singapore since 1995 pleaded guilty on Monday (Jul 29) to entering the country without a valid pass. 

Choo Juan Suan, 64, was arrested last November in a flat at Block 44 Beo Crescent, a prosecutor from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) told the court.

ICA officers were conducting a random check and found that Choo could not produce any evidence to show that he was staying in Singapore lawfully.

The ICA Data Processing Branch tried to trace his entry records into Singapore based on particulars that Choo gave, but there was no record indicating that he had entered Singapore lawfully through any gazetted entry point.

Court documents did not state how or why Choo stayed in Singapore for 23 years.

His defence lawyer Wee Hong Shern requested to adjourn the guilty plea at first, saying it was a “slightly unique” case, and that all his client’s ties are here in Singapore.

Before Monday’s hearing, he had successfully requested for several weeks’ adjournment for his client to settle some matters. In this time, Choo made arrangements for a place to stay in Malaysia. 

Mr Wee said his client’s job was in relation to the Hungry Ghost Festival, where goods are auctioned.

Debts owed for these goods are collected only a year later, he said, and Choo had to take time to collect about S$10,000.

He said some of this goes to a temple, while he receives a portion of the money.

The prosecution objected to another adjournment of his guilty plea, which the judge agreed with.

Choo will return to court for mitigation and sentencing on Aug 16.

The offence of entering Singapore without a valid pass draws a maximum sentence of up to six months’ jail, at least three strokes of the cane or a fine of up to S$6,000 in lieu of caning.