Youth who flouted circuit breaker rules while harassing loanshark's debtors given reformative training

Singapore's State Courts seen on 21 April 2020. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — A youth who harassed loansharks’ debtors in order to pay off his own debt to a loanshark was sentenced to 12 months’ of reformative training on Tuesday (14 July).

Chua Jun Yong, who committed one of the acts during the circuit breaker period, was also disqualified from driving for 12 months for road traffic offences. This will take effect once he is released from reformative training.

Reiterating his defence that was raised during Chua’s previous hearing, lawyer Ng Shi Yang said his client had “a trying childhood which led him to have very little guidance in life”.

Chua had only committed the current offences as he was in need of quick cash after he stopped work in preparation for enlisting in national service, said Ng. Prior to that, Chua, who turned 21 in June, took care of himself by working multiple jobs.

“The last few months were a sobering process for Jun Yong. As mentioned previously, his name and face were plastered all over (newspapers) as his case was during the circuit breaker period.

“The shame has not left him and he has grown up further with the support of his girlfriend and his brother, whom he has now grown closer to,” said Ng, who represented Chua on a pro bono basis under the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme.

Chua now knows that crime is not the way forward for him, added the lawyer. Chua had earlier pleaded guilty to charges under the Moneylenders Act, the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020, the Road Traffic Act and the Motor Vehicles (Third-Party Risks and Compensation) Act.

Independent from a young age

Details previously shared by Ng in court painted Chua as having been independent from a young age as he received no support from his father. His parents had separated when he was three years old and his mother remained in Malaysia while his father brought him to Singapore.

Chua supported himself from the age of 14 and had worked as a clerk, stall helper, and an apprentice.

According to court documents, Chua began conducting the harassment activities from 6 April. He had been offered the tasks as a means to pay off an $800 debt to a loanshark.

Chua was promised $150 would be deducted from the amount owed for each debtors’ property that he struck. He agreed to visit eight units and rented a car to commit the acts. He did not have a driver’s license or insurance at the time.

He then drove to one such unit on 6 April and used indelible marker to vandalise a lift landing wall and locked the debtor’s front gate with a bicycle lock. He then drove to a second debtor’s unit and repeated the acts.

On the night of 9 April, Chua struck at another apartment. By this point, Singapore’s circuit breaker measures – which barred individuals from leaving their homes for non-essential activities – had already kicked in.

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