She lied about halal papers

SINGAPORE - A restaurant secretary who failed to renew the company's halal certificate changed the expiry date on it before it was shown to potential customers.

Pung Chee Lai then lied to her boss, telling him that the halal application was still being processed and backed this up by showing him a faked e-mail purporting to be from the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis).

The 57-year-old was fined $5,000 yesterday after she admitted to using the forged e-mail.

At the time, she had been working for Pioneer Spring Restaurant and Tuas Point Seafood Restaurant and Catering, which provided halal food for company functions.

Tuas Point's halal certificate expired on Nov 20, 2011, but when Rotary Engineering and Singtel made inquiries for halal food in the three months after that, she provided fakes that showed the expiry date as Nov 30, 2012.

Muis lodged a police report in March 2012. Deputy Public Prosecutor Ang Siok Chen said Pung's boss was alerted by his staff to the forged certificate shown to Singtel, but when he confronted Pung about it, she told him the

renewal application was still being processed.

To back up her claims, she showed him an e-mail from Muis, which was also forged.

Ms Ang highlighted the public interest in deterring conduct which undermines the halal certification regime. She said Pung's actions were dishonest and premeditated.

Agreeing, District Judge Wong Choon Ning said the whole system would be affected if people could bypass it or create false certification. He added: "In this case, I do not find any basis of a deliberate commission of the act to provoke racial disharmony."

A charge of forging the certificate was one of the two considered during Pung's sentencing.

Her lawyer, Mr Devadas Naidu, said in mitigation that the company was then "facing monumental financial difficulties with mounting debts".

Pung had to deal with them and had also been pressed by her boss to provide information in relation to the company's application for the renewal of its halal certificate.

She committed the offence when her manager asked for some written confirmation in order to "get him off her back".

Pung could have been jailed for up to four years and/or fined for using a forged document as genuine.

This article was first published on March 11, 2015.
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