Former Ang Mo Kio Town Council (AMKTC) general manager Wong Chee Meng got a 27 months’ jail term for taking bribes from a construction company director for contract awards.
Wong also has to pay a $23,300 penalty by next May 2020 for a discount given to him on a car and remittances to his mistress in China made by the company director in the form of a bribe related to contracts for construction services.
The company director, 64-year-old Chia Sin Lan, was sentenced to 21 months’ jail for bribing 59-year-old Wong and his two companies, 19-ANC and 19-NS2, were fined $75,000 each.
Wong and Chia could have been jailed for up to seven years and/or fined a maximum S$100,000 for each charge of corruption.
Wong started out as a property manager at AMKTC before getting a promotion to the post of general manager in 2013. As a general manager, he reportedly earned a hefty $10,550 a month.
In Sept 2016, the town council was alerted to a possible case of corruption and asked the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) to investigate Wong, after requesting him to go on leave. One month later, Wong was removed from all his positions at the town council.
Several weeks of trial turned up lurid details of how Chia bribed Wong for favours. Wong eventually admitted to receiving more than $86,000 in bribes from Chia between December 2014 and September 2016.
The court heard that Chia would take Wong out for entertainment at KTV lounges, massage parlours and restaurants and spent a sum of $34,000 in entertainment expenses.
Chia paid for Wong to receive “spa treatments” at Geylang and Spa-1 Wellness Centre worth between S$147 and S$1,476 and even once paid S$35 for Wong’s hotel stay at Fragrance Hotel.
The court heard that Wong liked to “hang flower” on hostesses to “show appreciation to those who were performing”. CPIB Principal Special Investigator Keith Peh Wan Hao testified that Chia and Wong would go to flower joints in Balestier, Jalan Sultan and Newton Circle, and Wong would “hang” flowers costing up to S$500 per flower on hostesses.
Chia also conspired with a car salesman, Yip Fong Yin, to give Wong a S$13,500 discount on a Toyota Corolla Altis. He got a job for Wong’s daughter-in-law at 4-Ever Engineering, where she received S$8,248 salary for working between March to August 2016.
Chia also sent remittances of $27,800 to Wong’s China mistress Xu Hongmei, whom he met at a KTV lounge. Wong had reportedly asked for Chia’s help to finance the renovations of Xu Hongmei’s home in China.
The steady stream of bribes caused Wong to become “beholden” to Chia and he admitted to feeling obligated to advance Chia’s business interests using his authority at AMKTC. He overtly recommended Chia’s companies at times and highlighted the unsatisfactory track record of vendors competing against Chia’s firms at other times.
During the period in which Wong was being bribed, Chia’s companies were awarded more projects and one of the companies was awarded Invitations to Quote worth about $121,000, up from $9,800 in 2014.
Calling Wong’s acts “particularly reprehensible,” District Judge John Ng said: “Instead of giving a good example … he had acted hypocritically. He has committed a grave mistake by succumbing to corruption and falling from grace. He must now face the consequences of his actions.”
Asserting that this was not a case of “outright bribes” like other corruption cases, Judge Ng said that Wong had “allowed himself to be cultivated by a contractor” and “became beholden to Chia and the two companies” due to the bribes.
Judge Ng seconded the prosecution’s submission that “absolute probity is demanded of all officers and employees of town councils” due to the vast amount of resources managed by town councils and the “extent to which town councils impact upon the private lives of a majority of Singaporeans”.