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Former Ang Mo Kio town council general manager may end up with 4-year jail sentence

The DPP has asked for a deterrent sentence in view of the fact that Wong Chee Meng's actions have huge consequences on public trust in town councils

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Singapore — A stiff jail sentence, as well as a fine, is being sought for former Ang Mo Kio town council (AMKTC) general manager Wong Chee Meng. In March, the 59-year-old pleaded guilty to corruption.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Jiang Ke-Yue said on June 26, Wednesday, that there is a need for a “stiff deterrent sentence” in Mr Wong’s case, and has asked for a sentence of at least four years and eight months and a fine of S$23,400.

Mr Wong pleaded guilty on March 25 of this year to having received S$80,000 worth of bribes from his co-conspirator, Omar Chia Sin Lan, age 63. These bribes came in the form of money remitted overseas to Mr Wong’s mistress in China, funds for entertainment, and a sizeable discount when Mr Wong purchased a car from Mr. Chia.

Read related: Former GM of AMKTC, along with co-conspirator, plead guilty to corruption charges

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Mr Chia pleaded guilty to three counts of having given bribes in order for favour to be given to two of his companies, which had been hired to do work for Ang Mo Kio Town Council by Mr Wong.

Mr Wong was the recipient of kickbacks for over a period of two years, from December 2014 to September 2016. Mr Chia gave these to him since he was the major shareholder as well as the director of the two companies, 19-ANC Enterprise, and 19-NS2 Enterprise.

For Mr Chia, the prosecution is also seeking a jail term of at least four years and two months, as well as a $100,000 fine for each of his two companies.

Messrs Wong and Chia are scheduled to return to court on August 23 for their sentencing.

According to DPP Jiang, what the two men have done caused a “great deal of public disquiet.

This is because of its propensity to erode the belief and trust in town councils, public institutions which are entrusted by Parliament to administer public funds in an accountable manner,” said Mr Jiang.

“Given the sheer size of resources managed by town councils and the extent to which town councils impact upon the private lives of a majority of Singaporeans, absolute probity is demanded of all officers and employees of town councils.”

Defence lawyer Melanie Ho cited Mr Wong’s “exemplary career and public service record” of more than 30 years, asking the court for a jail sentence of between 11 and 14 months and a penalty of S$1,505.

Mr Wong’s trial began in September 2018. Back then, Alan Loh, the Deputy Public Prosecutor in the case, said, “The lion’s share of the gratification, some S$52,893.07, was in the form of entertainment expenses incurred by Victor Wong and Omar Chia at various KTV lounges and massage parlours, which the two frequented regularly at night.”

When he bought a Toyota Altis that had been in the possession of Chia’s companies, Mr Wong also reportedly was given a sizeable discount of S$13,500.

Moreover, Mr Chia supposedly sent remittances of S$30,000 to a woman in China reported to be the mistress of Mr Wong. The business owner was also said to have paid for a line for a mobile phone so that both Mr Wong and his mistress could call China for free. Finally, Mr Chia also hired the daughter-in-law of Mr Wong as a subcontractor for one of Chia’s firms.

The Deputy Prosecutor also had this to say: “As the general manager of AMKTC, Victor Wong had the power and ability to influence the award of AMKTC projects. Victor Wong was expected to act with absolute probity, particularly because his job involved the administration of public funds.”

“Instead of exercising his role impartially without favour, Victor Wong fell far short of the high standards of integrity demanded of his office and allowed himself to be cultivated by Omar Chia and had become beholden to him.”

Anti-graft investigators began to examine Mr Wong’s suspicious activities as far back as December 2016.

AMKTC is responsible for the oversight of residential estates in Ang Mo Kio GRC group representation constituency. While it’s chairman is Ang Hin Kee, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong himself is also a town councillor of this particular group representation constituency, along with Gan Thiam Poh, Intan Azura Mokhtar, Koh Poh Koon, Lam Pin Min and Darryl David./ TISG

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