The charges of Muhammad Resat Ahmad, 64, were heard in court on Tuesday (7 March) for his alleged offence of stealing earth cables fixed to the ceiling of Golden Landmark Shopping Centre in 2006 to sell.
He had pleaded guilty to two counts of dishonest misappropriation of property.
The man had been working as a technician for Golden Landmark for 23 years until he was arrested last year. Back then in 2996, Mr Resat was drawing a monthly salary of only S$1,210.
Mr Resat, who has two schoolgoing children, told the Court that he desperately needed more income, stating that his wife was diagnosed with endometrial cancer sometime in 2003 and had to undergo chemotherapy.
Unfortunately, he could not get any help on the financial issue that he was facing to his friends nor relatives.
In despair, Mr Resat, who is currently unemployed, and a colleague then started to cut the cable wires in the ceiling with a saw between February and April 2004, and between July and September 2006. As a technician, he was given full access to the electrical service and riser rooms in the building.
They then slit open the cables’ insulation covering, removed the copper wires, and sold them at a metal scrap shop, earning S$6,000 which was later split equally between them.
However, an engineer hired by Far East Organisation, the building’s landlord, saw that earth cables, transformers and switch cables were missing last May, and reported the matter to the Police.
The case drew the attention and sympathy of netizens. Most of them stated that Mr Resat is clearly underpaid, seeing that he had been working for the company for 23 years.
Here are what they wrote:
- Thiru SC wrote, “Sad. 20 years as a technician and paid so little by his company. Our workers are really pitiful.”
- Dzar Ismail wrote, “The maximum pay for a senior technician is $3000 per month. Considering that he has worked 20 years in the service, and with his monthly pay of $1200, the company technically stole $432,000 from him.
Sad thing is, even if the copper wires cost $70,000 to repair, if you break it up into 20 years, that is about $291 per month. Factor that amount of money into his monthly pay, he will earn about $1491 per month, still underpaid in my opinion.”
- Aloysius Lau wrote, “Well, we have people who said 30 percent increase in water bill is the right thing to do. What about these ppl in such a situation?”
- Sim Johan wrote, “Am I reading it correctly!? Worked for 23yrs in the same place and last drawn pay only 1210? That company had obviously underpaid him for more than 20 years. He should counter sue them for dishonesty!”
- Lim Isaac wrote, “$1200 can barely survive in Singapore nowadays. Worse still, he has a family to support.”
- Riduan Sariff wrote, “He stole which was definitely not the right way out of his desperate situation back then. At least he is not a sex predator, so may his sentence be meted out fairly.”
- Wayne Ng wrote, “And the people up there sitting comfortably in parliament on their high paychecks still believe there are no real ‘poor’ people in Singapore. Well, we are not poor comparing to some other countries, but in our own backyard, we can’t survive because of our own beloved government, who has lost touch with the society because they jus get richer as time goes by. We can work our whole life and it will never be enough because the gov has left us behind in their wake with their ever expensive policies, and they would not care less if u could keep up because if you can’t, there are many others who can, be it Singaporean or not.”
- Mohammad Irfan wrote, “Bravo, surely no one would have helped in his difficulty. The World does not leave you with an alternative. You fight until your last breath and you proved the love you had for your wife. Don’t worry you are not a robber or thief, you are just caught in the circumstances and I have full sympathy for you. I hope someone out there can help you. Sad.”
- Shanti Kathamuthu wrote, “Sad. He stole for his family. But the company can compromise and give him one chance and improve his salary or support his family. Please, see his situation. Have empathy and sympathy. Advice stealing is serious and forgives him once.”
- Gillian Teo wrote, “This is the kind of crime the judges should show leniency and sympathy for. There are some crimes recently which I do not even understand why the sentences are so light.”
- Kok Chwee Sim wrote, “He committed theft. That is a fact. His low salary and his inability to cope with his wife’s medical treatment is also a fact. While what he did constituted a crime and is wrong, perhaps the management of Far East Organisation could find it in their heart to understand his desperation and forgive him. Perhaps FEO can even find a way to allocate a portion of its CSR budget towards helping him and his wife. Let’s have a heart and be kind to him.”
- Henry Goh wrote, “This will be one of the reasons I will no longer be the 70 percent. Please wake up, dear Singaporeans. We should not have policies that penalise the poor while they are barely surviving on underpaid jobs. It’s okay to tax for luxury items, but not water and other essentials. And surprising that our social safety net was not enough to help his family overcome medical costs to the extent that he had to resort to such measures. Can’t help but think the leaders have lost their sense of purpose in making lives better for Singaporeans.”
- Maharani Rani wrote, “Rich gets richer, poor gets poorer!! I can feel him. It is his last resort as life in Singapore getting very challenging for most true Singaporeans. Most of us overworked and underpaid!! Everything around us is increasing except our salary. And sadly to say the living cost here will drive us crazy!! “White Satans” continue to earn a lot and a lot, leaving ordinary people live a misery life!! Very sad ending for most local breeds.”
- Timi Abdul Razak wrote, “This is so sad. I was thinking of doing a kickstart or something to give support for his family in this trying time. Anyone can reach the family or can give this idea a try? I don’t know how. How about it guys?”
- Amelia Errington wrote, “My question is for such Low income – why wasn’t his wife’s medical expenses taken care of by some health care scheme in our very well to do country? Clearly, he qualifies for some assistance?”