Singapore's 'highest-ranked polo player' gets jail for lying in citizenship application

Singapore's 'highest-ranked polo player' gets jail for lying in citizenship application

Pakistani native Abdul Sattar Khan
Pakistani native Abdul Sattar Khan lied in his successful application for Singapore citizenship and went on to represent Singapore in polo games. (Photo: Singapore Polo Club)

SINGAPORE: A man who lied in his application for Singapore citizenship and went on to represent the country in polo games was sentenced to jail for two weeks on Thursday (Jul 18). 

Abdul Sattar Khan, 53, was born in Pakistan and has been described as the "highest-ranked Singapore polo player".

He first tried to become a Singapore permanent resident in 2000 after he was offered a job at the Singapore Polo Club, claimed the defence. 

However, Khan was unsuccessful in that application. 

He tried again six years later with forged educational documents and successfully attained Singapore permanent residence. He was given Singapore citizenship three years after this.

Khan, who is a polo manager at the Singapore Polo Club, then managed to gain Singapore citizenship for his son in 2010.

The court heard that Khan's first lie to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) was in Jan 24, 2000, when he stated falsely in his application for permanent residence that he had attended "Garden East School, Pakistan" for his secondary-level education.

He had not attended this school, nor did he attach any certificate with his application, which was rejected.

He tried again in April 2006, going to the ICA building and stating that he attended Ibrahim Ali Bhai Secondary School in Pakistan. This time, he enclosed forged educational documents, hoping for a better chance of success.

The Board of Secondary Education in Karachi has since established that the documents are bogus, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Chong Yun Ling.

After Khan was caught, he admitted that he lied and had never attended neither Garden East School nor Ibrahim Ali Bhai Secondary School.

Instead, he said he attended a village school named Government Elementally Boti Mianwali.

When ICA investigated the matter, it uncovered a similar false statement in his application form for Singapore citizenship.

He had similarly claimed that he attended Ibrahim Ali Bhai Secondary School, attaching the same forged documents as proof.

Khan is still listed as a Singapore citizen in court documents. 

In response to CNA's queries, ICA said anyone who has made a false statement will be dealt with firmly in accordance with the law. 

"This may include having their immigration facilities deprived or revoked, as provided for under the Constitution and the Immigration Act," said ICA.

"For those who have been convicted of an offence, the statuses of their family members will also be reviewed by the ICA."

The agency said it is unable to share further information on how the case involving Khan was discovered.

SKILLS AND CONTRIBUTIONS TO SINGAPORE IN POLO: DEFENCE

Khan pleaded guilty on Thursday to one charge under the Immigration Act to giving a false statement on his permanent residence application, and another of making a false statement to induce the minister to grant him Singapore Citizenship.

A third similar charge was taken into consideration.

Defence counsel Thomas Sim said his client attended several schools in different areas in Pakistan as a boy, as his father served in the army and was deployed to different places.

Khan finished his schooling in a rural school in an agricultural region, which awarded no formal certificate to Khan upon completion of his studies.

Khan had a talent in polo from a young age, said the lawyer from Engelin Teh Practice. He began playing at 11 and turned professional six years later, growing to be one of the top polo players in Pakistan.

He visited Singapore around 1994 where he impressed the Singapore Polo Club as a guest player and guest umpire. The club purportedly offered him a job as a polo instructor and horse trainer, said the lawyer.

Khan took up the offer and joined the club about a year later, with an employment pass.

He was deputy national polo team coach for the Singapore polo team for both the 2007 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and the 2017 SEA Games, and has been shortlisted to represent the country as a player on the national team in the 2019 SEA Games, said Mr Sim.

"For many years, the accused was the highest-ranked polo player in all of Southeast Asia," said the lawyer. "To date, (he) remains the highest-ranked Singaporean polo player."

He said his client could not remember the name of the school he attended when applying for permanent residence in Singapore and called his father for help, who told him he had gone to Garden East School and later gave him a certificate from Ibrahim Ali Bhai Secondary School.

"The accused realises and recognises that it was wrong for him to submit the secondary school certificates that his father had obtained from the local Pakistani agent," said the lawyer.

However, he said that he never relied on his academic qualifications, and that his skills and contributions to Singapore are in the field of polo.

The court heard that ICA takes various factors into consideration when foreigners apply for permanent residency and citizenship. These include the applicant's profile, their family's profile and how rooted they are in Singapore, their economic and other contributions, as well as how well they can assimilate.

"The Permanent Resident Services Centre and Citizenship Services Centre have made clear that if the accused did not make the false statement or submit the forged certificate, his permanent residency would not have been granted by the ICA," said the prosecutor.

District Judge Mathew Joseph granted deferment of Khan's sentence to Jul 23.

Source: CNA/ll(gs)

Bookmark