SINGAPORE: In order to secure a better job, a man who held only Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) qualifications forged various documents including A-Level and university certificates.
His deception allowed him to secure jobs at 38 companies over four years, until one firm checked with the National University of Singapore (NUS), exposing the forgery.
For his crimes, 49-year-old Chin Ming Lik was sentenced to two years and 11 months' jail on Tuesday (Mar 5) and fined S$1,600.
He pleaded guilty to eight charges including forgery, making a false statutory declaration and theft.
Another 13 charges, including stealing diapers from NTUC FairPrice, were taken into consideration.
During investigations, Chin said that he decided to forge the certificates because he had heard that project managers in civil engineering drew good salaries and he wanted to obtain such jobs.
Sometime around January 2014, he came across a copy of a Building Construction Supervisors Safety Course Certificate in an office he worked at.
He photocopied the certificate, which was issued by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), overlaying a slip of paper with his own name over it so that it appeared to have his name on it.
Among the other certificates he forged were a degree scroll for an NUS First Class Civil Engineering degree and an A-Level certificate.
He also fabricated several documents for courses accredited by MOM, including a lifting supervisor safety course, a risk management course and a construction safety course.
In his resume, Chin lied that he had 16 years of experience and had worked for various construction companies.
As a result of his trickery, he was hired by various building and construction firms and given jobs with monthly salaries of between S$3,500 and S$9,000.
To avoid suspicion, Chin worked at each company for only short periods of time before moving on, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Pei Wei.
In December 2016, an assistant manager at NUS lodged a police report stating that an NUS degree scroll with Chin's name had been sent to the university for verification, but that it did not match any of the records in NUS' database.
Chin was placed on a stop list for the purposes of investigation, as he was suspected to have forged the document for employment.
He was stopped and arrested at Woodlands Checkpoint in April 2017 for not having a valid driving licence.
Investigations found that he had been disqualified from driving since 1992 and had driven four different cars without a licence for a decade.
A few months after this, Chin stole two packs of diapers and two 10kg bags of rice from an NTUC FairPrice supermarket in Bedok.
CHIN'S FAMILY RELIED ON HIM FINANCIALLY: DEFENCE
Chin's defence lawyers Ravinderpal Singh and James Ow Yong said that Chin had forged the certificates "out of desperation" for a better paying job as his family depended on him heavily for finances.
At the time of the offences, Chin's two-year-old son suffered from asthma and needed to be taken to the hospital whenever he had difficulties breathing.
His other son, who is a year older, is suspected to suffer from Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, while Chin's younger brother is physically disabled.
Chin's older brother suffers from stage four lung cancer, said the defence, and also relies on Chin for financial support.
Chin himself is being treated at the Institute of Mental Health and has been diagnosed with depression, said the lawyers.
They asked the court to grant Chin "a final chance to change" and to temper justice with mercy.
The prosecution had asked for three years' jail, while the defence called for two-and-a-half.