Group MD charged in court over viaduct collapse a PA grassroots leader in Potong Pasir

Five individuals and the main contractor, Or Kim Peow Contractors, have been charged under the Building Control Act and the Workplace Safety and Health Act for their roles in the collapse of the PIE viaduct at Upper Changi on 14 Jul last year. One worker was killed while 10 others were injured.

On Wed (30 May), the court heard that there was unauthorised work carried out by the contractor to strengthen surrounding corbels. The contractor has also failed to flag flaws and cracks in the viaduct’s design and structure, deleting potentially incriminating WhatsApp messages.

Court documents alleged that the group managing director of the public listed construction company OKP Holdings, Mr Or Toh Wat, was aware of cracks in the corbels – support structures – of piers 40 and 41 of the viaduct, but had failed to do proper risk assessments of the affected corbels and take measures to ensure the safety and health of employees.

Kim Peow Contractors Pte Ltd, subsidiary of OKP Holdings, was awarded the $94.6 million dollar contract by LTA in Nov 2015 to construct the viaduct.

At the time when the contract was awarded to OKP, Mr Or Toh Wat remarked, “We are glad to have secured this contract from LTA, a valued client, which reflects the confidence in OKP’s extensive competence in infrastructure and civil engineering projects.”

“We believe that our sound experience in design-and build projects has helped us clinch this contract,” he said.

OKP run by Or family members linked to PA grassroots

OKP describes itself as “a leading infrastructure and civil engineering group in Singapore”. Its clients include the LTA, HDB, JTC, National Parks Board, PUB, URA, Changi Airport Group and etc. In recent years, it has also expanded its business into property developments.

According to its annual report, OKP was founded by Mr Or Kim Peow in 1966. Mr Or was awarded a PBM medal in 2003. He is the Group Chairman. He is also the Vice-Chairman of Gek Poh Community Club Management Committee (CCMC) and the Patron of Potong Pasir Citizens’ Consultative Committee (CCC). Mr Or Toh Wat, the Group MD, is his son who was also conferred a BBM medal for “service to the community” in 2013.

Like his father, Mr Or Toh Wat is also a PA grassroots leader. He is the Chairman of Potong Pasir CCMC. Mr Or Kiam Meng, another son of Or Kim Peow, is the Executive Director of OKP. He is also a grassroots leader and Patron of Anchorvale CCMC.

Mr Or Lay Huat, third son of Or Kim Peow, is also another Executive Director of OKP. Not surprisingly, he too follows the footsteps of his father and the 2 elder brothers to become yet another PA grassroots leader. He is a member of Tampines GRC and Tampines West CCC.

Dr John Chen, an ex-PAP Minister of State and ex-MP, is an independent director sitting on the board of OKP. Dr Chen was an MP from 1988 to 2006 and the Minister of State for Communications from 1997 to 1999. From 1999 to 2001, he was the Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology and Minister of State for National Development.

In essence, the Or family members are all PA grassroots leaders in the various constituencies and know many PAP MPs and Ministers, including those retired ones like Dr John Chen.

Viaduct design approved by talent hailed from Indonesia

Meanwhile, of the 5 being charged in court, Dr Robert Arianto Tjandra faced the most number of charges. He is the qualified person from subcontractor CPG Consultants (formerly Public Works Department of Singapore government). He approved the design and supervision of the construction works for the project.

Dr Tjandra was accused of endangering the safety of others by putting up structural plans without checking on the design assumptions made for the corbels between the affected piers.

He is also alleged to have known that the said corbels lacked the capacity to support construction works and live loads when the deck slab was being concreted, but he failed to carry out necessary remedial works.

He was also accused of falsely certifying that structural plans and design calculations of the viaduct were in line with the Building Control Act and regulations, even though they were not.

According to website of CPG Consultants, Dr Tjandra got his first degree from Bandung Institute of Technology in Indonesia. He later went to University of Sheffield to do his MSc before landing in NUS to do his Ph.D in civil engineering.

The next court hearing is scheduled to be on 11 Jul.