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Prosecutors seek longer jail sentence for ex-town council GM in graft case

Prosecutors seek longer jail sentence for ex-town council GM in graft case

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 20 May 2020
Author: Selina Lum

District judge failed to take into account public disquiet over offences which eroded trust in town councils: DPP

Prosecutors appealed to the High Court yesterday for a former general manager of Ang Mo Kio Town Council (AMKTC) to be sentenced to four years in jail for corruption, almost double the 27-month prison term he is currently serving.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Jiang Ke-Yue argued that the district judge who sentenced Wong Chee Meng, 59, last year failed to take into account the grave public disquiet generated by the bribery offences, which eroded trust and confidence in town councils.

Between 2014 and 2016, Wong received more than $86,000 in a stream of bribes from Chia Sin Lan, 64, the director of two companies - 19-ANC Enterprise and 19-NS2 Enterprise - which carried out works for town councils.

DPP Jiang also argued that Chia should be sentenced to three years and eight months in jail, more than double the 21-month term he is currently serving.

Wong and Chia, who appeared in the remote hearing with prison haircuts, cross-appealed for shorter jail terms.

Wong's lawyer, Ms Melanie Ho, sought between 11 and 14 months' jail, while Mr Eugene Thuraisingam sought 17 months' jail for Chia.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon will give his decision at a later date.

Wong was AMKTC's general manager from 2013 to 2016. In September 2016, the town council received a complaint about the way he handled contracts.

He was removed from duty a month later and subsequently investigated by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau.

In March last year, Wong and Chia each pleaded guilty to three corruption charges part-way through a trial that had started in September 2018.

The first charge was over a $13,500 discount on a Toyota Corolla Altis owned by 19-ANC that was sold to Wong in 2014. Chia, who had not met Wong at the time, had agreed to the discount to gain favour with Wong.

Later, after getting to know each other, the pair began to patronise KTV lounges and massage spas together.

The second charge was for the $34,000 incurred on these entertainment expenses.

The third charge was for payments to Wong's mistress totalling about $27,800.

Two other charges for bribes amounting to nearly $10,800 were taken into consideration.

One was for the free use of a mobile phone line that Chia had given Wong and the other was for work that Chia had found for Wong's daughter-in-law.

In that period, 19-ANC and 19-NS2 were awarded tenders and contracts by AMKTC worth $9.8 million.

Yesterday, the DPP said Wong directly intervened in the tender bids submitted by the two firms and influenced town council staff to include 19-ANC in the list of contractors to invite for quotations.

This was a significant abuse of trust and authority, he argued.

Ms Ho argued that Wong played no part in the final decision-making. Mr Thuraisingam contended that no harm was caused to the interests of AMKTC.

Both argued that some offences should be viewed in the context of the pair's friendship.

Ms Ho noted that Wong had also paid $16,000 for entertainment expenses, while Mr Thuraisingam said Chia was partly motivated by friendship to help Wong's mistress.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

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