Monday, 19 October 2009

Spend Nine Years in Singapore and Earn $3.5 Million Dollars!

An annual salary of SGD 390, 000 (USD 280,000) is a nice sum.
One need not worry about the top-up charge on the new subway fare cards or whether the prices for 'mass market' homes are in record territory or not. Such miniscule facts will not affect your quality of life.
Assume that you were given nine years salary in advance in return for 'giving up' the good part of the coming decade. Is the amount worth nine years of freedom – will SGD 3.5 million buy enough freedom for the 'post nine year' era?

That may be the exact calculation undertaken by Jerry Ee. The 36 year old former supervisor at a Cortina Watch outlet in Singapore walked off with watches and cufflinks worth SGD 8.2 million (USD 5.9 million) in December 2008.
Three months after committing the Christmas Day (2008) crime, Ee gave himself up to authorities in Thailand.
Since surrendering, Ee returned 230 watches and cash amounting to SGD 4.6 million. Approximately SGD 3.5 million still remains missing, probably stashed away somewhere waiting for his release in 2018.
Earlier this month, Ee was convicted to nine years in jail for his crime. Another bad guy pays his debt to society and the system wins again?
Singapore's Changi prison is not a Turkish prison (a la the Midnight Express). Dropping your soap in the shower is unlikely to be a life threatening experience at Changi. Who knows Ee might even be able to 'upgrade' his skill set by attending vocational and educational courses while in prison?
Undeniably, jail time must be a psychologically harrowing event. Not an ordinary occurrence for an average human. An experience which may leave lifetime scars on any person, even a person with a prior criminal record.
Ee has two earlier convictions, one for theft and another for abetting his father in defrauding an electronics retailer. (How Cortina does their hiring and conducts background checks on potential employees are questions which only Cortina's management can answer.)
While Ee may have SGD 3.6 million to look forward to in 2018, there are many a slip between the cup and the lips. Can he safely hide his stash of watches and / or cash, untouched for nine years? Can he trust anyone to keep the booty safe, unspent and away from the prying eyes of private detectives and the law?

Once out of jail, Ee will probably rush to Thailand to start a 'new' life with his hard earned retirement nest egg. He will get definitive answers to the two questions only then.
It is difficult to know what may be going through the mind of a criminal. Jail time is a tricky affair at best. But if someone offered me a Christmas gift of SGD 3.6 million, admittedly I will be tempted to give the terms of any proposal serious consideration.

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