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Chin Ming Lik. Source: ST

Man sentenced to prison for two years and 11 months for forging certificates including NUS degree to obtain civil engineering jobs

A 49-year-old man was sentenced to two years and 11 months’ imprisonment on top of a S$1,600 fine on Tuesday (5 Mar) after spending four years fraudulently securing civil engineering jobs in 38 companies via forged academic transcripts.

Chin Ming Lik plead guilty to eight charges slapped against him, which included forgery and making a false statutory declaration.

It was learnt that during police investigations two years ago, Chin, whose highest qualification is the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE), had admitted to having falsified several certificates, including but not limited to:

  • a First Class in Civil Engineering degree scroll from the National University of Singapore (NUS) in Jan 2014;
  • a Certificate of Attendance for a low-cost automation course from Singapore Polytechnic (SP);
  • a GCE A-level certificate in 2012; and
  • a Building Construction Supervisors Safety Course Certificate from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in 2014.

In addition to the above qualifications, Chin claimed to have 16 years of experience in construction companies such as Obayashi Corporation and Takenaga Corporation Singapore in his résumé, and had even declined an offer of a monthly salary of S$7,500 from CHL Construction for the position of Project Manager, as he found the salary too low.

Chin had also made a false statutory declaration in Sep 2015, claiming that he was unable to provide original copies of the certificates, as he had misplaced them during a house move.

It was learnt that Chin had done so because he knew that prospective employers were going to use the original certificates for the purpose of verification, charged Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Tan Pei Wei.

Chin’s forgery discovered by NUS assistant manager in 2016; degree scroll did not match University’s records

DPP Tan revealed that Chin’s forgery came to light in Dec 2016 after an assistant manager at NUS’ Registrar Office found that the degree scroll containing Chin’s name did not match any of the records in the University’s database.

The NUS degree scroll was sent in by a company Chin had applied to for verification purposes.

Following the discovery, the assistant manager lodged a police report based on the suspicion that the degree scroll had been forged for the purpose of applying for employment.

Chin was subsequently arrested at Woodlands Checkpoint on 23 Apr the following year after the police had placed him on a stop list to assist with investigations.

It was discovered during the arrest that Chin did not possess a valid driving licence, and only relied on a provisional one after being barred from driving since 1992. He was reportedly in the midst of obtaining a new driving licence at the time.

Chin also charged with, and found guilty of, committing theft at NTUC FairPrice in 2017

Besides forgery, Chin was also charged with theft for stealing two packs of diapers and two packets of rice from an NTUC FairPrice supermarket in Bedok North in Sep 2017, for which he had made full restitution amounting to S$133.40, according to TODAY Online.

District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan noted in his judgement that Chin Ming Lik’s previous sentencing of corrective training had “no rehabilitative effect”, and that his current sentence is intended to serve as a deterrent, reported The Straits Times.

Chin’s lawyer James Ow Yong, however, highlighted during the mitigation of his client’s sentencing that the latter had committed forgery of the certificates “in order to find a better-paying job, as his family members depend on him heavily for his financial provision”, being the sole breadwinner of his family.

Mr Ow Yong also told the court that Chin was diagnosed with depression at the Institute of Mental Health, and that several members of the latter’s family are struggling with a slew of health issues, including Chin’s younger son who suffers from asthma, adding that Chin pays S$200 for every visit to the doctor.

Additionally, Chin is also supporting his physically disabled younger brother and his older brother who suffers from advanced lung cancer, added the defence lawyer.