SINGAPORE: Former Transport Minister S Iswaran appeared at the High Court on Wednesday (May 8), represented by his lawyers from Davinder Singh Chambers.

Mr Iswaran, 61, filed an application to the High Court for the two sets of charges he faces to be tried together instead of separately.

On Jan 18, he was charged under the Prevention of Corruption Act, along with one charge of obstruction of justice and 24 charges of obtaining a valuable thing as a public servant.

On March 25, he was slapped with eight additional charges under Section 165 of the Penal Code, which disallows public servants from obtaining valuable items from individuals with whom they have official dealings.

CNA reported his lawyer, Mr Davinder Singh, saying that Mr Iswaran was unaware that the gifts he received from businessmen Ong Beng Seng and Lum Kok Seng were “veiled gratification.”

“He was dealing with very, very dear and close friends,” added Mr Singh.

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“His state of mind at that time was that not only was he dealing with close friends, he had no idea at all that there was any … he had no knowledge or suspicion that the gifts were offered as veiled gratification.”

The Jan 18 charges against Mr Iswaran are related to gifts from Mr Ong, while the March 24 charges relate to gifts from Mr Lum. Mr Singh asked for a joint trial of the two sets of charges that Mr Iswaran faces.

“What the prosecution was and is today seeking is to push off the OBS (Ong Beng Seng) trial and to use the dates that have been allocated for the OBS charges for the (Lum Kok Seng) charges.

That cannot happen unless the prosecution satisfies you that there is reasonable cause for that,” CNA quotes Mr Singh as saying.

He added that the charges against Mr Iswaran are “all invoking a section which has never, to my knowledge, been invoked in Singapore courts.

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This is going to be the first time the Singapore courts are dealing with (Section) 165, its ingredients and what defence is available.”

However, Deputy Attorney-General Tai Wei Shyong said there is no basis for a joint trial.

“We asked for the (Lum Kok Seng) charges to be tried first and OBS charges to be tried consecutively. Two trials. It has been consistent. We have not deviated from this position today.”

He also said that the two sets of charges have different contexts and have “no connection.” /TISG

Read also: 8 new charges slapped against S Iswaran; CPIB investigates businessman connected to charges