The last time when I had to change my address, I brought my family along, with their IDs and electricity bills and telephone bills and whatever other documents so that I can prove that I was indeed living with them and not a, ahem, fly-by-night tenant. It was almost a great event that involved everyone in the household.

However, the update process was very quick and easy and I’m not sure, but I don’t think any of the document that we brought down had to be used. It was as simply as filling up a form or two and signing some documents. They then printed some sticker so that it could be affixed over the old address on my ID.

It was as simple as that. So, whenever I shifted house, I’d just have to repeat the exercise all over again. It then occurred to me that it is also possible for someone to lie about their change of address, especially in Singapore where your address determines:

  • bonuses from government – the kind of property that you stay in apparently determines how much you’d get in their last bonus payout exercise
  • the points you get for hall application – because the further your address (in terms of postal code), the more points you get for hall application
  • the school that you can send your kid to – because priority is given to residents staying nearer to the school
  • your social standing – if you are one of the people who are conscientious about what your address in your ID says

Apparently, someone did lie to get his address changed and it had caught up with him 4 years later – and it was because of

  • investigations into his sole proprietor legal firm
  • someone else registering their children from the same address

So, did that “someone else” lie as well? No. Apparently, “someone” paid the owner of a place so that he becomes a legal tenant of sorts, but chose not to move in. However, I’m not sure if the tenure had expired, but the same unit was rented to “someone else”, whose kid is registered in the same, ahem, prestigious school.

I do pity the “someone” though because it shows the extent of things that Singaporean parents do for their children. Of course, I do not know the whole story yet but the poor kid may probably have to transfer out of the school into a new environment all over again. She’s in Primary 4 now and I’m not sure how well she’ll adapt for the next two years.

Hmm… all-girls’ school in Bukit Timah. Isn’t that either Raffles Girls’ Primary School (RGPS) or Singapore Chinese Girls’ School (SCGS)?

IT WAS that reputable all-girls’ school in Bukit Timah for his little girl or bust.

So a lawyer lied to get her in – first by making a false change-of-address report to a police officer that he had moved into the neighbourhood, and then by lying to the school’s vice-principal that the family was living within a kilometre of the school.

The lies, told in 2003, have now caught up with him.

But Tan Sok Ling, 40, has other problems. Suspended from legal practice this year for accounting irregularities in his firm, he was yesterday convicted in court of lying to a public servant and could face jail time.

It was during the hearing on this matter that his lies emerged.

The court heard that, to give weight to his story, Tan even paid $1,600 a month to use the address of a condominium apartment as his mailing address.

He might have got away with his lie too – had the owner of the apartment not rented it out to a couple who registered their daughter at the same school.

The girl and Tan’s daughter, who were in Primary 4 this year, are still in the school.

Tan is now likely to be struck off the rolls.

This has almost invariably been the fate of lawyers convicted of forgery and cheating when they face the Court of Three Judges, which rules in disciplinary cases involving lawyers, say those in legal circles.

Deputy Public Prosecutor James Lee told the court yesterday that Tan was suspended from practice in March this year for breaching accounting regulations at his now-defunct law firm, a sole proprietorship.

When he found a rental apartment in 2003, he told its owner he would not occupy it, but was willing to pay $1,600 every month for the use of the address of the unit.

He next went to the police to report his ‘change of address’, so he could use the new information to get his daughter into the school.

She got in.

However, unknown to Tan, the owner of the apartment rented it out to tenants who also put their daughter in that school.

This came to light after Tan was charged with forgery.

Separate investigations by the Commercial Affairs Department revealed that he had forged stamp duty certificates between September 2004 and February last year.

In order to make a quick buck from his clients, he inflated the amount of stamp duties payable on the certificates and pocketed the difference.

For example, he told one client to pay $13,500 when duty payable was $8,100.

His lawyer, Mr Peter Low of Colin Ng & Partners, yesterday pleaded for leniency on his behalf, saying that Tan, a first offender, was ‘extremely remorseful’ and had cooperated fully with the police.

Mr Low added that Tan, who has since returned the money to his client, did what he did because his firm was buckling under a ‘tight cashflow situation’.

Tan will return to court to be sentenced on Thursday.

For lying to the police, he could be jailed for up to six months. For forgery, he could be jailed for up to seven years.

Article obtained from on 23rd November 2007

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