A former Ang Mo Kio Town Council (AMKTC) general manager was sentenced to two years and three months of jail today (20 Nov) after pleading guilty under the Prevention of Corruption Act earlier this year to receiving S$86,141 worth of bribes from 2014 to 2016.
Wong Chee Meng was also ordered to pay a penalty of S$23,398.09 as a result of receiving bribery.
Chia Sin Lan — the company director from whom he had taken bribes from — also plead guilty, and was sentenced to one year and nine months’ jail.
Chia’s companies — 9-ANC Enterprise and 19-NS2 Enterprise — were in charge of general building, repairs and redecoration works for AMKTC and other town councils.
His companies were also subsequently ordered to pay S$75,000 each for their involvement in a criminal conspiracy to commit corruption.
The bribes included, but were not limited to, overseas remittances from Chia to Wong’s mistress from China, the M1 mobile phone and line Wong used to make calls to his mistress, and entertainment expenses on 29 occasions at various KTV lounges, restaurants, spas and a hotel.
Chia’s companies handled general building, repairs and redecoration works for AMKTC and other town councils.
Consequently, District Judge John Ng, in handing out the two men’s sentences, reasoned that while Wong was an employee of a private company and not a government employee per se, the question of public interest — particularly public trust in Singapore’s public administration — was nonetheless crucial in the immediate case, as Wong’s position encompasses some of the powers of the town council, which is a statutory body.
The judge also said that Wong had “cultivated” himself and allowed himself to be “beholden” by Chia on multiple occasions, which were reciprocated by Chia “with mutual benefits in mind”.
Wong, noted Judge Ng, had first asked for a lower price on a Toyota Corolla Altis that 19-ANC was looking to sell in Dec 2014.
After Wong and Chia had built greater rapport, the former then had asked the latter for loans twice – once in Jun 2015 to pay for his mistress’ house renovations in China, and again in Nov that year to assist his mistress after she had lost money to an investment scam.
Judge Ng also noted that Chia also entertained Wong on 29 occasions to the tune of about $7,000 between May 2015 and Jul 2016.
The judge told the court that Wong “committed a grave mistake by succumbing to corruption and falling from grace”, and must thus “now face the consequences”.
“Such a sentence is severe enough… to remind us… that ‘absolute probity is demanded of all officers and employees of town councils’.
“The sentence also signals clearly our zero tolerance for corruption in general and corruption that undermines public administration in particular,” added Judge Ng.
Judge Ng noted, however, that while both Chia and Wong were guilty of corruption, the former’s two companies had nonetheless won several contracts worth $9,874,650 through open tenders, and have had instances in which they failed to secure their bids for projects with AMKTC, similar to competing contractors.
“There is no evidence to show that the protocols and processes set in place for the awarding of contracts by the town council were not intact”, said the judge.
The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) in a statement on Wed stressed that Singapore “adopts a strict zero-tolerance approach towards corruption,” and that giving or receiving bribes from another individual or entity is “a serious offence.”
“As this case involves gratification received in relation to Government contracts, Wong and Chia were subjected to the enhanced maximum penalty… and were sentenced accordingly,” added CPIB.
The prosecution sought four years and eight months’ jail for Wong, alongside the imposed penalty, while a jail sentence of four years and two months was sought for Chia, with a maximum fine of S$100,000 for each of the two companies.
Wong’s defence lawyer Melanie Ho however, had asked for a lower jail sentence between 11 and 14 months, with a S$1,505.63 penalty, citing Wong’s lack of authority to decide on the awarding of contract tenders.
She also argued that there was no correlation between the bribes Wong received and the contracts awarded to Chia’s companies.
Wong and Chia could have been jailed for up to seven years — which is a couple of years longer than the maximum jail term for a corruption charge — or fined up to S$100,000 or both, due to the nature of their involvement with a public body.