SINGAPORE: Alagar Balasubramanian (“Bala”), a 47-year-old Singaporean Permanent Resident and operating manager of entertainment establishment Jaiho Club was convicted on 21 February 2022 for labour trafficking offences. Today (19 April 2022), he was sentenced to 41 months imprisonment and fined $27,365 (in default 20 weeks’ imprisonment) relating to three charges under the Prevention of Human Trafficking Act 2014. Further, he was also ordered by the court to pay compensation amounting to $2,722 (in default two weeks’ imprisonment).
Labour Trafficking Case Details
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) was first alerted to this case in June 2016. Investigations found that Bala had interviewed and hired female Work Permit Holders (WPHs) as performing artists at Jaiho Club. The trial was in relation to three of these WPHs.
Prior to entering Singapore, the WPHs were made to sign contracts that were not fully explained to them. Bala then imposed onerous financial demands that the WPHs would not be able to repay if they wished to leave their jobs. They were not paid any salaries throughout their employment.
In addition, Bala subjected the WPHs to constant distress, including seizing their passports and mobile phones and threatening to cause them physical harm if they returned to India without his approval. Two WPHs were even subjected to physical assaults.
Singapore takes a serious view of trafficking-in-persons (“TIP”). Anyone found guilty of TIP will face a mandatory jail sentence of up to 10 years plus a fine of up to $100,000 for first-time offenders. They are also liable for up to six strokes of the cane.
MOM Provided Assistance to the Three WPHs
MOM took the necessary steps to ensure that the three WPHs received appropriate care. MOM investigation officers visited them regularly to check on their physical and mental well-being, and we even engaged professional counselling services to look after their emotional needs. To help in their rehabilitation process, we also supported the WPHs to gain temporary employment under the Temporary Job Scheme (TJS). All three women have since safely returned to India.
Singapore’s Commitment to Combating TIP
On a whole-of-government level, the Singapore Inter-Agency Taskforce on TIP, co-chaired by the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Manpower, coordinates strategies to tackle trafficking issues – from prevention of TIP, prosecution of cases, and protection of victims. Singapore remains committed to combating TIP. The prosecution of this case is one example of how the Taskforce has been tackling this complex issue.
As a commitment to tackling TIP at the international level, Singapore acceded to the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (UN TIP Protocol) in 2015 and ratified the ASEAN Convention against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (ACTIP) in January 2016.