Sales rep provided illegal carpooling services during circuit breaker

In the first case of its kind, a man has been convicted of providing unlawful carpooling services during the circuit breaker (CB) last year.

Ng Chiang Huat, now 54, was caught after he picked up two "passengers" who turned out to be Land Transport Authority (LTA) officers.

Singapore had imposed the circuit breaker from April 7 to June 1 last year to curb the growing number of Covid-19 cases.

Ngpleaded guilty yesterday to one count each of using his car as a public service vehicle without a proper licence and an offence under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act.

Ng was a sales representative for a wholesale trading company at the time, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Lee Ti-Ting and LTA prosecutor Ng Jun Kai in court documents.

The Singaporean was also a member of the "Covid-19 Lockdown SGHitch" chat group on messaging platform Telegram.

On April 23, he posted a message in the group stating: "Driver looking for pax."

He then accepted a request to take a passenger from Choa Chu Kang Avenue 4 to Plaza Singapura for $12, DPP Lee said.

A man and a woman later boarded Ng's car at around 10.20am and were on their way to their destination when an LTA enforcement officer stopped the car in Handy Road.

When questioned, Ng lied by claiming the pair were his relatives. When asked for their names, Ng was unable to provide their exact names.

DPP Lee said: "The accused then admitted... the two passengers in his vehicle were not his relatives, and he was ferrying them in exchange for a fare."

The prosecutors called for Ng to be jailed for at least a week, fined $1,800 and disqualified from driving for a year.

They said: "By advertising his carpooling services, the accused had flouted his intention and willingness to disregard the circuit breaker measures."

Defence lawyer Ramachandran Shiever Subramaniam told the court his client is remorseful and regrets his actions.

Ng will be sentenced on March 12.

This article was first published in The Straits Times