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Freelance from overseas - breached or not breached?

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Freelance from overseas - breached or not breached?

Postby newFreelance » Wed, 22 Aug 2012 11:05 pm

Hi Guys,

I know there are been several threads asking about this type of question, but I really cannot find any similar case like mine. Kindness experience expat please do your best to help with my question.

I am a Malaysian working a freelancer 2 years ago, but most of my project coming from a singapore company. The company initially want to hired me as their Project Manager but MOM rejected (not knowing any reasons).

Nevertheless, I was still helping the company as a freelancer to manage their programmers and projects which is from Malaysia through internet (remote) and phone. During my freelance period, I go in and out very often to Singapore to look for job and interview, unfortunately, I failed for a lot interviews and I do meet up with the company lady boss sometimes after my interview. This situation last for 3 months after I found a permanent job in Singapore and stop working freelance.

MOM recently checked my record (someone reported) and fault me that I have breached their law and want to barred me from working in Singapore.

My question is did I really breached the law?

During my 3 months working freelance with the company, the lady boss pay me personal cheque and bank transfer (her personal bank account) which is not company cheque or account.

I am not residing in Singapore during that time and not holding social visit pass or any other work pass.

I refused to sign the warning letter which will barred me to work in Singapore for years as I have a very good career now, the letter will ruin my career, but the officer intimidate me that they will bring this to court and I will barred entry forever to Singapore if I lost the case.

Do I stand a chance if I go to court?

Kindly waiting for experience expats who know Singapore or MOM law well to advise.

*Forgive my broken english :???:

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Postby offshoreoildude » Thu, 23 Aug 2012 1:07 am

If you had been paid by a Malaysian entity I would say you have a high chance. However as they seem to have paid you using Singapore funds via a personal channel to hide this fact I suspect you've got a big problem. It seems very unfortunate to me as if the company had found a labour hire company in MY they could have easily avoided this problem. I personally would not sign the letter. I would get some advice from a lawyer and present your case to the court and plead mitigation (i.e. you did not know in good faith it was a breach of MOM policy or Singapore law).

The main argument you should use is that your time in Singapore was not spent working but discussing the business. I suspect though that you've spent far too much time in Singapore for that and it looks like work.

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Postby Strong Eagle » Thu, 23 Aug 2012 9:33 am

You need to be able to answer the following questions to prove that you were not working illegally in Singapore.

a) Did you retain a permanent residence in Malaysia during the time you were working freelance?

b) Did you stay in hotels and/or Serviced Apartments when you did visit Singapore?

c) Did you declare your freelance earnings on your Malaysian tax return?

d) Can you demonstrate that a substantial portion of your activities were remote management conducted mostly from Malaysia?

e) Can you demonstrate that your visits to Singapore were for meetings, status reports, new assignments, etc, and that any other work activities were simply necessitated by multiple branches in multiple countries?

If you can answer yes to all or most all of the above, I don't think you are in any kind of violation of the law. You can be paid out of Singapore. You can travel in and out of Singapore without restriction.

What you have to prove is that you were not actually working in Singapore without a permit. From what you have posted so far, this seems to be the case.

I would not sign the letter. Instead, I would prepare documentation supporting all of the above. I would present it to the case officer, and if that fails, you will have it ready for a court appeal.

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Postby newFreelance » Thu, 23 Aug 2012 11:19 am

offshoreoildude wrote:If you had been paid by a Malaysian entity I would say you have a high chance. However as they seem to have paid you using Singapore funds via a personal channel to hide this fact I suspect you've got a big problem. It seems very unfortunate to me as if the company had found a labour hire company in MY they could have easily avoided this problem. I personally would not sign the letter. I would get some advice from a lawyer and present your case to the court and plead mitigation (i.e. you did not know in good faith it was a breach of MOM policy or Singapore law).

The main argument you should use is that your time in Singapore was not spent working but discussing the business. I suspect though that you've spent far too much time in Singapore for that and it looks like work.


Thank you for your advice offshore. The lady boss issued me the cheque as an expenses to overseas of her company, as she outsource most of her coding project to india and china. There is a way she manage her company, she said that both of us are safe as long as I do not hold any status in Singapore.

I do state that I am here to discuss project and emphasize I do not hold any status in Singapore to the MOM officer. Eventually, they still intend to issue me an warning letter with an agreement to barred me out of Singapore after 3 months with intimidating nature. I personally would not sign the letter as I think I do stand a chance, however I would like to elevate my knowledge to protect and defend myself that is why I seeking help from here.

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 23 Aug 2012 11:45 am

I'd say, the ruse is up. They know about your scam to avoid taxes in Singapore and while the company isn't in any danger, you are the victim of greed and trying to avoid taxes by working from another country.

Are you paying taxes to Malaysia on this money you are receiving? If not, you can be in heaps of poo-poo there as well. You may well find yourself persona non grata in both countries. This especially so if there is any type of cooperation between the two countries in this respect.

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Postby newFreelance » Thu, 23 Aug 2012 12:00 pm

Strong Eagle wrote:You need to be able to answer the following questions to prove that you were not working illegally in Singapore.

a) Did you retain a permanent residence in Malaysia during the time you were working freelance?

b) Did you stay in hotels and/or Serviced Apartments when you did visit Singapore?

c) Did you declare your freelance earnings on your Malaysian tax return?

d) Can you demonstrate that a substantial portion of your activities were remote management conducted mostly from Malaysia?

e) Can you demonstrate that your visits to Singapore were for meetings, status reports, new assignments, etc, and that any other work activities were simply necessitated by multiple branches in multiple countries?

If you can answer yes to all or most all of the above, I don't think you are in any kind of violation of the law. You can be paid out of Singapore. You can travel in and out of Singapore without restriction.

What you have to prove is that you were not actually working in Singapore without a permit. From what you have posted so far, this seems to be the case.

I would not sign the letter. Instead, I would prepare documentation supporting all of the above. I would present it to the case officer, and if that fails, you will have it ready for a court appeal.


Hi Strong Eagle, thanks a lot for you info.

a) Did you retain a permanent residence in Malaysia during the time you were working freelance?
Yes, I am a citizen of Malaysia and I am still now. I do not hold any residence status in Singapore before.

b) Did you stay in hotels and/or Serviced Apartments when you did visit Singapore?
I never stay in hotels and or Serviced Apartments when I visit Singapore, as I going back Malaysia - Johor Bahru after I interview and discussion with the company lady boss.

c) Did you declare your freelance earnings on your Malaysian tax return?
I did declare tax to Malaysia governement but I do not need to pay as my income that time did not meet the minimum requirement to be taxed.

d) Can you demonstrate that a substantial portion of your activities were remote management conducted mostly from Malaysia?
I think the lady boss still hold a archive copy of my emails. The project which I conducted is using teamviewer and log-me-in to server.

e) Can you demonstrate that your visits to Singapore were for meetings, status reports, new assignments, etc, and that any other work activities were simply necessitated by multiple branches in multiple countries?
The company client are in Singapore. However, most of the coding documents were from overseas (China and India), sending by email or through remote software. The lady boss and I hold the discussion almost every time at a dining restaurant. I did attend to some of her clients company to discuss matters but just for short period.

I cannot say I answer a completely "Yes" to all of the question above, but the answer I provided consider close to "Yes".

I have a major concern that is, the company paid me as an overseas expenses, but I bank in the cheque to local bank. I afraid they will take this as my detriment and garble as I was accepting "salary".

What I have are the lady boss who can declare I was not working for her, most programmers statement that I work with them via cyber network communication, and some emails to prove I was in Malaysia when I work freelance.

I do ask the officer by what law they are going to charge me to court or verify I had breached MOM working law, but he cannot answer just only threaten me to sign the letter.

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Re: Freelance from overseas - breached or not breached?

Postby sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 23 Aug 2012 12:10 pm

newFreelance wrote:Hi Guys,

I know there are been several threads asking about this type of question, but I really cannot find any similar case like mine. Kindness experience expat please do your best to help with my question.

I am a Malaysian working a freelancer 2 years ago, but most of my project coming from a singapore company. The company initially want to hired me as their Project Manager but MOM rejected (not knowing any reasons).

Nevertheless, I was still helping the company as a freelancer to manage their programmers and projects which is from Malaysia through internet (remote) and phone. During my freelance period, I go in and out very often to Singapore to look for job and interview, unfortunately, I failed for a lot interviews and I do meet up with the company lady boss sometimes after my interview. This situation last for 3 months after I found a permanent job in Singapore and stop working freelance.

MOM recently checked my record (someone reported) and fault me that I have breached their law and want to barred me from working in Singapore.

My question is did I really breached the law?

I refused to sign the warning letter which will barred me to work in Singapore for years as I have a very good career now, the letter will ruin my career, but the officer intimidate me that they will bring this to court and I will barred entry forever to Singapore if I lost the case.



Technically, probably not. But on the face of it, You applied for a job with this company. Your application for an Employment Pass was rejected. Therefore you went to work for the company anyway, but working from Malaysia and coming to Singapore to collect and bank in your cheques and to get new assignments.

Someone reported you and MOM had a look. Sees you are working for the company that applied for your original pass, adds one plus one and what do you think it looks like to them? I know what it looks like to me.

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Postby newFreelance » Thu, 23 Aug 2012 12:20 pm

sundaymorningstaple wrote:I'd say, the ruse is up. They know about your scam to avoid taxes in Singapore and while the company isn't in any danger, you are the victim of greed and trying to avoid taxes by working from another country.

Are you paying taxes to Malaysia on this money you are receiving? If not, you can be in heaps of poo-poo there as well. You may well find yourself persona non grata in both countries. This especially so if there is any type of cooperation between the two countries in this respect.


Hi SMS, thank you for your reply. I feel you are just gloating by reading your reply. Seek your empiric moderator forgiveness if I misinterpret your meaning!

FYI, if you think this is a scam of me to avoid taxes, with my "stupid" brain, I will not work in Singapore for years until now.
Last edited by newFreelance on Thu, 23 Aug 2012 12:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Strong Eagle » Thu, 23 Aug 2012 12:27 pm

newFreelance wrote:
sundaymorningstaple wrote:I'd say, the ruse is up. They know about your scam to avoid taxes in Singapore and while the company isn't in any danger, you are the victim of greed and trying to avoid taxes by working from another country.

Are you paying taxes to Malaysia on this money you are receiving? If not, you can be in heaps of poo-poo there as well. You may well find yourself persona non grata in both countries. This especially so if there is any type of cooperation between the two countries in this respect.


Hi SMS, thank you for your reply. I feel you are just gloating by reading your reply. Seek your empiric moderator if I misinterpret your meaning!

FYI, if you think this is a scam of me to avoid taxes, with my "stupid" brain, I will not work in Singapore for years until now.


So, you said you didn't not stay overnight in Singapore. So, how often did you enter Singapore in the three month period? Once a day? Once a week?

And, you must be living close by (JB), to not stay overnight in Singapore. Yes? This could make life much tougher for you. If you are regularly in and out of JB, after being rejected for a work pass, it sure looks like working in SG illegally. That is the hurdle you have to overcome.

SMS speaks plainly... many people try all sorts of ruses to work illegally... and they get caught. Only you can know your actual circumstances.

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Re: Freelance from overseas - breached or not breached?

Postby newFreelance » Thu, 23 Aug 2012 12:34 pm

sundaymorningstaple wrote:
newFreelance wrote:Hi Guys,

I know there are been several threads asking about this type of question, but I really cannot find any similar case like mine. Kindness experience expat please do your best to help with my question.

I am a Malaysian working a freelancer 2 years ago, but most of my project coming from a singapore company. The company initially want to hired me as their Project Manager but MOM rejected (not knowing any reasons).

Nevertheless, I was still helping the company as a freelancer to manage their programmers and projects which is from Malaysia through internet (remote) and phone. During my freelance period, I go in and out very often to Singapore to look for job and interview, unfortunately, I failed for a lot interviews and I do meet up with the company lady boss sometimes after my interview. This situation last for 3 months after I found a permanent job in Singapore and stop working freelance.

MOM recently checked my record (someone reported) and fault me that I have breached their law and want to barred me from working in Singapore.

My question is did I really breached the law?

I refused to sign the warning letter which will barred me to work in Singapore for years as I have a very good career now, the letter will ruin my career, but the officer intimidate me that they will bring this to court and I will barred entry forever to Singapore if I lost the case.



Technically, probably not. But on the face of it, You applied for a job with this company. Your application for an Employment Pass was rejected. Therefore you went to work for the company anyway, but working from Malaysia and coming to Singapore to collect and bank in your cheques and to get new assignments.

Someone reported you and MOM had a look. Sees you are working for the company that applied for your original pass, adds one plus one and what do you think it looks like to them? I know what it looks like to me.


Thanks you, SMS. As your first reply, I may stand chance.

You have already said "looks like". I do not know "looks like" can be an evidence to court or not? Unless Singapore court make decision without "evidence"? I am sorry, once again, I am not familiar with Singapore law.

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Postby newFreelance » Thu, 23 Aug 2012 12:51 pm

Strong Eagle wrote:
newFreelance wrote:
sundaymorningstaple wrote:I'd say, the ruse is up. They know about your scam to avoid taxes in Singapore and while the company isn't in any danger, you are the victim of greed and trying to avoid taxes by working from another country.

Are you paying taxes to Malaysia on this money you are receiving? If not, you can be in heaps of poo-poo there as well. You may well find yourself persona non grata in both countries. This especially so if there is any type of cooperation between the two countries in this respect.


Hi SMS, thank you for your reply. I feel you are just gloating by reading your reply. Seek your empiric moderator if I misinterpret your meaning!

FYI, if you think this is a scam of me to avoid taxes, with my "stupid" brain, I will not work in Singapore for years until now.


So, you said you didn't not stay overnight in Singapore. So, how often did you enter Singapore in the three month period? Once a day? Once a week?

And, you must be living close by (JB), to not stay overnight in Singapore. Yes? This could make life much tougher for you. If you are regularly in and out of JB, after being rejected for a work pass, it sure looks like working in SG illegally. That is the hurdle you have to overcome.

SMS speaks plainly... many people try all sorts of ruses to work illegally... and they get caught. Only you can know your actual circumstances.


I never stay overnight during the 3 months. However, I did come in regularly even at weekend (2-4 days a weeks) as most of my friends are here. I am not living in JB but a small town from Johor (estimate 1.5 hours driving distance to JB). Yes, this is a hurdle, and I am here to seek any more suggestions could make me stand firm on my situation now.

For the ruses, it is matter of opinion, I cannot change any forumer minds.

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 23 Aug 2012 1:03 pm

newFreelance,

Pardon me, but "looks like" or "seems like" is all that a ICA or MOM officer needs. They hold all the cards and you have none. You are working for the same company the the government rejected your application for to work there. If they think you are trying to pull a fast one (and I'm pretty sure that is exactly what they think) it going to be up to you to convince them otherwise. You do know, in Singapore, you are guilty until you can prove your innocence. This is not the west.

I'm not gloating, I'm just giving you an interpretation of the facts as you have presented them and how the government is going to view it. Nothing more. I personally don't care either way, so I don't need to gloat. Please, if you ask for opinions, don't get upset when they aren't as you would ideally like.

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Postby newFreelance » Thu, 23 Aug 2012 2:57 pm

sundaymorningstaple wrote:newFreelance,

Pardon me, but "looks like" or "seems like" is all that a ICA or MOM officer needs. They hold all the cards and you have none. You are working for the same company the the government rejected your application for to work there. If they think you are trying to pull a fast one (and I'm pretty sure that is exactly what they think) it going to be up to you to convince them otherwise. You do know, in Singapore, you are guilty until you can prove your innocence. This is not the west.

I'm not gloating, I'm just giving you an interpretation of the facts as you have presented them and how the government is going to view it. Nothing more. I personally don't care either way, so I don't need to gloat. Please, if you ask for opinions, don't get upset when they aren't as you would ideally like.


As you have written here. They hold all the cards, and that's why I am here to seek for opinion for help to clear my 'guilty'. I do have some to prove my innocence as Strong Eagle and offshore has enlighten me. But I need more guidance from whose staying Singapore longer time or even citizen here (citizen of course know more about their own country law).

I do appreciate your opinion for my other replies. However, looking back to your first reply, forgive my impertinence, do you think your reply will not upset a person who might be going to face a lawsuit? Some may think this is self-inflicted if it was done deliberately but not for one who lack of circumspection. Sorry I have digressed.

Once again, I sincerely apologize my reckless if I offend you.

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 23 Aug 2012 3:27 pm

If you continue to work in Singapore, they don't even have to go to court. They can just cancel your current employment pass and blacklist you. That's all takes. Or they could let you work till it's time for renewal and just not renew and blacklist. OR, if you want to stay here and fight it, you may win, you may lose. However.......

Your initial post said it was a warning letter. Normally warning letters will not have any action whatsoever other that "warning" you not to do something similar again.

Are you sure you heard them correctly? Could they have said "you sign the warning letter OR we will bring you to court which could result in you being barred entry to Singapore" ? That sounds more like it. If that is the case, do you want to gamble a court case and have it go against you which would result in you never working here again. It works just like a traffic violation. If you get a warning, nothing else happens, if you get a ticket you could lose your license.

Can you win? How many cases against the government of Singapore have you even seen that the Government didn't win?

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Postby newFreelance » Thu, 23 Aug 2012 3:47 pm

sundaymorningstaple wrote:If you continue to work in Singapore, they don't even have to go to court. They can just cancel your current employment pass and blacklist you. That's all takes. Or they could let you work till it's time for renewal and just not renew and blacklist. OR, if you want to stay here and fight it, you may win, you may lose. However.......

Your initial post said it was a warning letter. Normally warning letters will not have any action whatsoever other that "warning" you not to do something similar again.

Are you sure you heard them correctly? Could they have said "you sign the warning letter OR they will bring you to court which could result in you being barred entry to Singapore in the future? That sounds more like it. If that is the case, do you want to gamble a court case and have it go against you which would result in you never working here again. It works just like a traffic violation. If you get a warning, nothing else happens, if you get a ticket you could lose your license.

Can you win? How many cases against the government of Singapore have you even seen that the Government didn't win?


Thanks SMS.

To be frankly, I do not know how MOM works. It has been few months for this case and I am still able to renew my EP. I do read the warning letter correctly and written I am not able to work or stay in Singapore for years until they notice me (if I sign it). I do not know how government warning letter works.

I am pretty sure what that officer said "You either sign the warning letter or I bring you to court end up you will barred forever to Singapore". That's his words to me.

Yes, I know the judgement of most lawsuits against government, this applies to most of asian countries as well. It may sound silly to gamble the win or lose against government. However, if I sign the warning letter, I will barred immediately and I lose my career now. I must take the gamble even it is 0.1%. If I lose my career in Singapore now, I rather start my career in any other country and not returning Singapore.


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