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MFA: Singapore expresses concern regarding detention of Shoo Chiau Huat in Indonesia

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has written a letter of concern regarding the detention of Shoo Chiau Huat who was being detained for more than nine months by the Indonesian government for entering Indonesian territory without a permit.

Mr Shoo’s vessel was caught in Bintan waters when he was carrying 13 tourists from Singapore and Malaysia in April last year. His boat captain argued that it was a tourist angler vessel.

A week later, all 13 passengers and the captain was deported  by the immigration office. However, Mr Shoo was detained for allegedly entering Indonesian territory without a permit.

His first charge was for illegal fishing. However, the Tanjung Pinang District Court acquitted Mr Shoo in July.

However, he was unable to go back to Singapore as the Indonesian government detained him yet again, this time for alleged immigration violation.

Ohan Suryana, the head of Law and Human Rights Ministry’s regional office in Batam, said that in October, the Singaporean government had sent diplomatic notes protesting Indonesia’s handling of the case.

He said that Indonesian Ambassador to Singapore, I Gede Ngurah Swajaya, had came to Tanjung Pinang especially to send the diplomatic notes, containing protests, but he had explained that the case is continuing.

Ohan said the Foreign Ministry wanted Mr Shoo to only be deported. However, the official insisted that the trial must go on.

However, Mr Swajaya denied that his visit to the office was to give a diplomatic note from the Singaporean government on the arrest of captain Shoo Chiau Huat of the Singaporean vessel MV Selin.

He said that he was asking about the latest update in the legal status and process related to Mr Shoo, who had been detained in the immigration office’s detention center.

Later on, in January, Mr Shoo, who had been pleading guilty to the offence then was fined 50 million rupiah, or S$5,300.

However, after his sentence hearing on Tuesday (17 January), his lawyer said that he may still remain in prison, even after the fine is paid since the Indonesian Navy intends to pursue a case of sailing without a permit against Mr Shoo. His passport had also been detained by the Navy for further investigation.

Here is what the Ministry wrote in full:

MFA is deeply concerned with the long-drawn judicial process related to Mr Shoo and his prolonged detention in Indonesia since 16 April 2016.

Mr Shoo has been in detention for over nine months. He was originally charged for illegal fishing and trespassing and subsequently acquitted by the Tanjung Pinang Court on 11 July 2016. However, Mr Shoo remained in detention as new charges of immigration offences were filed by the Indonesian authorities on 5 October 2016.  On 17 January 2017, Mr Shoo was found guilty of immigration offences by the Tanjung Pinang Court, and fined 50 million rupiah, or a five-month prison sentence in lieu of the fine. However, we understand that Mr Shoo is not allowed to leave Indonesia even if he pays the fine, as there is the possibility of another round of new charges being brought against him by the Tanjung Pinang District Attorney’s Office, which could result in him being further detained and/or tried again in Indonesia.

MFA, including the Singapore Embassy in Jakarta and the Singapore Consulate in Batam, have been in close contact with the Indonesian authorities since Mr Shoo was first detained, to ensure that he is accorded his legal rights under Indonesian law.  The Singapore Government respects the laws and judicial process of Indonesia.  However, we are deeply concerned about the long-drawn judicial process related to Mr Shoo’s case, and his prolonged detention in the interim.  We will continue to reiterate to the relevant Indonesian authorities that Mr Shoo’s case be processed expeditiously, so that he can return to Singapore without unnecessary delay. Officers from MFA and the Singapore Consulate in Batam will also continue to render all necessary consular assistance to Mr Shoo and his family.