'Honeymoon' behind bars

SINGAPORE - He was a married Singaporean attracted to a Chinese national he met in May last year.

In a bid to keep her in Singapore, Fong Chee Keong, 41, got a fixer to arrange a marriage of convenience between his Chinese lover, Tang Qiu Xia, 36, and another Singaporean, Raymond Roy, 42, the following month.

The newlyweds lived apart from each other, with Raymond in Canberra Road and Tang in Geylang with friends.

Their matrimony caught the attention of Immigration and Checkpoints Authority officers when irregularities were found in Tang's application for a visit pass.

It turned out that another Singaporean, Gordon Koh, had helped Tang extend her stay in Singapore by helping her make false statements in her disembarkation/embarkation card in April last year.

Singaporean Steven Fong, who had been a witness in Tang and Raymond's marriage, was also involved in another marriage of convenience with a Chinese national, Zheng Cijun, registered in July 2012, officers found.

Tang was jailed four weeks in August last year for obtaining a visit pass by making a false statement in her application and for overstaying.

Raymond was jailed four weeks for obtaining a visit pass for Tang by making a false statement in his application for Tang's visit pass.

Fong Chee Keong was jailed four weeks in July for abetting and for making a false statement to get a visit pass for Tang.

Koh was jailed for three weeks, Fong two weeks and Zheng four weeks.

For their involvement in sham marriages, 139 people were convicted in court in just the first half of this year - up from the 89 people dealt with over the whole of last year.

Owner of matchmaking agency Bestmatch Marriage Consultants, Mr William Chew, said that every two or three months, a foreign woman, usually Chinese or Vietnamese, would come in asking if he arranges such marriages.

"They would say they'd give me between $2,000 and $6,000," he said.

"Some of them have been here for quite some time, you can tell from their accent."

He also gets Singapore men making the same inquiry. In some cases, these are men who have been approached by girls in pubs who want to stay on instead of shuttling between two countries.

Divorce

"Some of them say there's no risk - they would register (the marriage), then divorce. But I don't think it's love. They just want to lie. So I turn them away," said Mr Chew, who is in his 60s.

Owner of matchmaking agency Ideal Marriage Centre, Mr Loi Eng Tuang, 55, said he is offered up to $8,000 over the phone to arrange sham marriages. He declines such offers.

"It's fishy when women say they want to look for a husband, but are too easy about it. For example, they don't even care about the man's age," he said.


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