Boss sentenced for asking tipper driver to remove tons of coal from overloaded vehicle to avoid fines

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SINGAPORE: A boss who asked his employee to remove three to four tons of coal from an overloaded dump truck to avoid fines was sentenced to 10 days in jail on Monday (Nov. 21).

Chan Jet Huat, 56, pleaded guilty to one count of obstructing justice by inducing Chong Kong Pooi to remove the coal. Another charge was taken into account.

Chong worked as a driver for Hiap Tat Holdings, of which Chan was a director.

On March 4, 2021, Chong loaded coal onto his dump truck, which had a maximum loaded weight of 28 tons, and drove from Seletar North Link towards Fort Road.

On the way, he was stopped by a Land Transport Authority (LTA) officer, who suspected the truck was overloaded. The officer asked Chong to drive to an inspection center in Marymount for weighing, but Chong knew the truck was overloaded.

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According to Chong, he called Chan to tell him what happened, and Chan told him to “just try to run away”.

On his alleged instructions, Chong made multiple moves in an attempt to escape, including making sharp turns to avoid the LTA officer who followed him on his motorcycle.

The entire incident lasted over four hours and involved eight stops, five LTA officers and one traffic cop.

Eventually, the truck was towed away and impounded in a parking lot, with a note on the truck saying it was under investigation by LTA.

Later that night, Chan drove his car to the entrance of the inspection center to pick up Chong. They drove through the area looking for the truck.

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They found the truck near LTA Sin Ming, and Chan instructed Chong to use the spare key in the side of the truck to start the vehicle.

Chong did so and Chan instructed Chong to drive the truck about 8 miles (13 km) to Seletar North Link to unload three to four tons of coal from the truck. This was to ensure that the loaded weight of the truck remained below 31 tonnes.

Chong again followed Chan’s instructions. They did this because they believed it would reduce the possible penalties for overloading the truck. As Chong’s superior in the workplace, Chan had influence and superiority over Chong, the prosecution said.

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The next morning, Chong took the truck back to the inspection center for weighing, but authorities refused to weigh it because they believed it had been tampered with.

Chong was jailed for a week in October for his role.

Chong’s lawyers Josephus Tan and Cory Wong asked for no more than five to seven days in jail.

They said that Chan was Chong’s superior, but there was no evidence that he had no choice but to comply with Chan’s instructions rather than choose to do the right thing according to the law.

They said Chan has an 89-year-old wheelchair-bound mother who depends on him for help.

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