SINGAPORE, Aug 2 — A 63-year-old man was fined S$2,000 today by a district court for helping another man trespass on a protected military area to pick pandan leaves.
Ng Kiong Hoe pleaded guilty to forming a common intention with 61-year-old Cheng Lee Meng to unlawfully enter a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) training ground at Lim Chu Kang.
Cheng, who faces a similar charge, is disputing the facts and has claimed trial. It was not heard in court which facts he disagreed with.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Gabriel Choong told the court that Cheng had allegedly asked Ng to accompany him to Ama Keng Road Track 9, which is blocked off to the public by a padlocked gate, on the morning of Sept 9 last year.
The pair made their way to the training grounds later that afternoon in Cheng’s van.
When they arrived, Ng got out of the vehicle to unlock the gate with a key that he had received from Cheng, so that Cheng could drive in. It was not stated how Cheng got hold of the key.
However, just as Ng was about to close the gates behind him, a warrant officer from the SAF detained them.
DPP Cheng said Ng had refused to tell the warrant officer why they were there but when investigated by the police, he claimed that they wanted to harvest pandan leaves.
Ng, who was unrepresented, pleaded for leniency and told the court through a Mandarin interpreter that he was working as a crockery collector at a coffee shop, and “there was not much work (to do) because of the no dining-in rule”.
District Judge Luke Tan told Ng that he could have very well disrupted military operations or endangered the safety of both himself and others with his presence in the protected area.
“There are prominent signs (warning you not to enter). In fact, there is a figure of a soldier with a gun,” said the judge. He was referencing two signboards found within the vicinity that stated: “Protected Area. No admittance to unauthorised persons” in four different languages.
Ng did not respond.
Earlier in the hearing, District Judge Tan asked Cheng why he was only disputing the facts that morning when he had been present in court for this matter several times.
Cheng claimed this was the first time he was hearing them and will return to court again on Aug 19.
If found guilty, Cheng could be fined up to S$20,000, or jailed up to two years, or both. — TODAY