Singapore

Man who lied in PR application fails in appeal against jail term

More than two decades ago, a Pakistani national applying for permanent residency here lied to the authorities that his highest academic qualification was an arts degree from the University of Punjab.

Mohammad Sohail also submitted a forged degree to support his application. In reality, his highest qualification was the equivalent of the GCE A levels in Singapore.

The 51-year-old yesterday failed in his appeal to the High Court against a three-week jail sentence handed down by a district court last December.

In dismissing the appeal, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said that based on sentencing guidelines for such cases, the starting point was a custodial term of two to four weeks.

OWNED UP

He noted that the district judge, in imposing three weeks' jail, had taken into account that Sohail was remorseful as he readily owned up to his wrongdoing.

Sohail first arrived in Singapore in 1995 on an employment pass and married a Singaporean woman the following year.

Between September and October 1997, he applied for permanent residence and falsely stated he had a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Punjab.

To boost his PR application chances, he submitted a bogus degree, which he obtained from his cousin in Pakistan.

Court documents state the academic qualifications of the applicant is "one of the material considerations" in granting of PR status.

Sohail's application was approved in December 1997.

The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority said the offences were uncovered during an internal check.

Soheil was first charged in September last year.

On Thursday, defence counsel Mahmood Gaznavi said his client's actions were motivated by his desire to be with his wife and first child, a Singapore citizen, who was born in March 1997. Sohail subsequently had two other children, who are also Singapore citizens.

Mr Gaznavi argued that his client, who ran his own company, did not rely on his PR status to seek employment or to obtain any advantage for his children. - THE STRAITS TIMES

COURT & CRIME