Manager fined for locking up 3 foreign workers for 42 days
Court told they had sneaked out of dorm to buy liquor and will no longer be allowed to work in Singapore
Deeming three workers to be troublemakers, he locked them in a small room with a toilet for more than a month, till one of them contacted the authorities.
Yesterday, Shaun Pang Tong Heng, 41, who was the general manager of Ad-Meth Mech-Field, was fined $9,000 after pleading guilty to three counts of wrongful confinement.
Another three similar charges were taken into consideration.
As part of Covid-19 restrictions, all foreign workers living in dormitories were no longer allowed to enter or leave such premises from April 22. This was meant to stop the spread of the virus in the dorms.
The three Indian workers, aged 23 to 39, were housed in the company's factory-converted dorm at 75 Tuas South Street 5.
On May 12, Pang was told two of the workers were disturbing another worker in the company, and the third worker was being investigated by the police for an unrelated matter.
The court was told one of them had driven without a licence and crashed into company property, another had been drink driving and was involved in an accident, and the third was their drinking buddy.
Pang considered them troublemakers and locked them up in a confined area that consisted of a room and toilet, with the room measuring 3.4m by 4.3m.
It had three beds, fans, a water cooler and Wi-Fi.
The trio were locked in for three days, but were released by Pang on May 15 after they complained it was warm and had mosquitoes.
He allowed them to stay in an unlocked room that had three beds and air-conditioning.
But on May 18, Pang was shown a video clip of two of the workers leaving the company premises. The court was told the two workers had scaled a wall and went out to buy alcohol, sneaking back into the room later to drink with the third man.
They were allegedly found reeking of alcohol in the room, even when drinking was not allowed on the premises.
Pang locked them up in the confined area again, and the metal fencing surrounding the area was padlocked.
Over the next 39 days, the workers were kept in the room. They had their phones.
Three meals were provided to them daily for free. The court was told they complained the Wi-Fi was bad, and Pang bought a new router so they could get a better connection.
On June 25, one of the workers used his phone to notify the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) about their confinement.
MOM officers found them the next day and told Pang to release them immediately.
Yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Eric Hu told the court that though the trio had been confined in an area with the listed amenities, Pang had no excuse to take matters into his own hands. He said the workers could be considered vulnerable victims confined for a total of 42 days, and asked the court to fine Pang $3,000 for each charge.
The court was told the three workers will no longer be allowed to work here. For each count of wrongful confinement, Pang could have been jailed for up to three years on top of a fine.