Chew Eng Han Charged For Failed Sampan Escape Attempt
In the business of news, we live for headlines like this.
You may recall the curious case of Mr Chew Eng Han, ex-City Harvest Church leader, who attempted escape from Singapore in a motorised sampan.
Chew was charged in court today (12 Dec) and found guilty of attempting to escape Singapore, and evade his 3 year 4 month stay in prison, one day before it was slated to begin.
A poorly planned attempt
Chew Eng Han was apprehended by the Police Coast Guard in his vessel of choice near Pulau Ubin’s waters at 8.47am on Wednesday (21 Feb).
Dayung sampan, dayung dayung sampan?
On Mr Chew’s sampan, they found fishing equipment, $5000 in cash, three mobile phones and two SIM cards.
Upon further questioning, he claimed that he was fishing.
Nice try, Mr Chew.
To aggravate matters, he had already been allowed to defer his sentence to 22 Feb, so he could spend Chinese New Year with his family.
An expressionless Chew attended court proceedings, along with “a handful of people”, according to Channel NewsAsia.
Crime or no crime
There was a slight tussle between the prosecution and the defence regarding the nature of Chew’s crime.
In Chew’s defence, his lawyer claimed he was “apprehended too soon”, and didn’t actually “complete the act of leaving Singapore” — i.e. he didn’t make it to the boat leaving for Malaysia. Thus, he did not “pervert the course of justice”.
The prosecution argued that Chew’s illegal arrangements to leave Singapore, and the fact that he succeeded in boarding the sampan, was sufficient proof for his guilt.
Unfortunately for Chew, his judge wasn’t convinced.
In his words,
By the time the accused embarked on the first boat, he was clearly on his way to leaving Singapore from an unauthorised place.
The reasoning was deemed illogical as a person who designed an “elaborate escape plan with multiple legs” of a journey would be able to “evade liability”.
Extra jail for Chew
We expect that Chew’s eventual penalty will involve an extended jail term and possible fine in addition to his prior 3 years and four months jail sentence.
His main accomplice, a 45-year-old Malaysian agent Mr Khoo, has already been given a 6-month jail sentence for accepting $8,000 to arrange the ill-fated escape.
The sampan’s boatman Mr Tan Poh Teck, 53, received 27 weeks’ jail, while agent 42-year-old Rayson, was sentenced to 6 months’ jail.
Sorry Mr Chew, you’ll have to face the music for real this time.