Firm taken to court for housing 21 foreign workers in overcrowded conditions

Romesh Navaratnarajah4 Apr 2018

Court case

Accommodations provider Sino Star and its managing director could be imprisoned for up to 12 months and fined.

Sino Star Enterprise, an accommodations provider, and its managing director Zhou Fengxing were charged by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in the State Courts on Tuesday (3 Apr) for abetting an employer to house 21 foreign workers in a single unit, resulting in overcrowded and extremely unsanitary conditions.

The firm and the 53-year-old Zhou each face 21 charges under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA), which requires employers to provide accommodations for their foreign workers that comply with the rules.

More: MOM Calls On Housing Standards For Foreign Workers To Be Raised

This is because Sino Star was the master tenant of several units at a residential apartment in Geylang, and Zhou permitted the firm to sublet one unit to an employer to house the said workers from March to July 2015. Back then, the occupancy cap per unit was eight persons, before it was lowered to six persons in February 2017.

For violating the EFMA rule, Sino Star and Zhou could be imprisoned for up to 12 months and/or fined up to $10,000 for each charge.

Both are also facing two charges from the Urban Redevelopment Authority for abetting the unauthorised change of use of private residential units under the Planning Act and three charges of unauthorised change of use for such premises. If convicted, they could be fined up to $200,000 per charge.

Meanwhile, Reuters and Channel NewsAsia reported that the two Singaporeans who have pleaded guilty of unauthorised short-term letting via Airbnb were ordered by the court to pay $60,000 each on Tuesday.

The two men, 34-year-old Yao Song Liang and 35-year-old Terence Tan En Wei, were charged last December for renting out four private condo units for less than six months. They faced a maximum fine of $200,000 per charge.


Romesh Navaratnarajah, Senior Editor at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this or other stories, email


You may also like these articles

Foreign workers in certain sectors barred from public housing

Workers in the marine and process sectors, including the chemicals and pharmaceutical sectors, will no longer be allowed to be housed in HDB flats from 1 May 2015, said media reports. "This change

Continue Reading19 Nov 2014

50 workers living like sardines in 2 condo units

About 50 construction workers from India and Bangladesh were crammed into two condo units in Selegie Centre (pictured) near Little India, revealed a spot check by officials from the Migrant Workers’

Continue Reading20 Nov 2014

New law passed on foreign worker dorms

Under a new law enacted by parliament on Tuesday, dormitories for foreign workers with a minimum of 1,000 beds must have a license by the second half of 2015, media reports said. The Foreign Employ

Continue Reading21 Jan 2015