Ang Mo Kio Town Council case: prosecution seeks longer jail sentences

Chia Han Keong
·Editor
·4-min read
Wong Chee Meng, the former general manager of Ang Mo Kio Town Council. (PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore / Suhaile MD)
Wong Chee Meng, the former general manager of Ang Mo Kio Town Council. (FILE PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore / Suhaile MD)

SINGAPORE — Prosecutors have argued for longer jail terms for former Ang Mo Kio Town Council (AMKTC) general manager Victor Wong Chee Meng and company director Chia Sin Lan, whom Wong took bribes from.

In a High Court appeal on Tuesday (19 May), lawyers for Wong and Chia also sought for lower sentences, arguing that no harm was caused to the town council’s interests by their corrupt activities.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon has reserved judgment after the video-conference appeal, which took three hours. He will issue his decision at a later, unconfirmed date.

Sentenced in November 2019

Wong, 60, was sentenced in November 2019 to a total 27 months’ jail, alongside a financial penalty of $23,398.09 as disgorgement for the financial gratifications he had received.

He pleaded guilty to three counts of receiving tens of thousands of dollars in bribes over a period of two years. These amounted to a $13,500 discount on a purchase of a car, about $27,800 in remittances to his mistress in China and $34,070.40 in entertainment expenses at various KTV lounges, restaurants, massage parlours and a hotel.

He took the kickbacks from 64-year-old Chia, the director and major shareholder of two firms, whose core business is the carrying out of works for town councils.

Chia’s two companies, 19-ANC Enterprise and 19-NS2 Enterprise, were awarded tenders and contracts by AMKTC worth millions of dollars during the period that Wong accepted the bribes.

Chia was sentenced to 21 months’ jail, also in November 2019.

District Judge made ‘erroneous findings’

The prosecution, led by Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Jiang Ke-Yue, is seeking jail terms of four years for Wong and three years and eight months for Chia.

DPP Jiang argued that District Judge John Ng made several “erroneous findings” during sentencing. For example, he had undervalued the gratification Chia gave to Wong, after considering overseas remittances to Wong’s mistress to be loans rather than outright payments.

According to the prosecution, DJ Ng also did not give enough weight to several aggravating factors such as Wong being AMKTC’s secretary who owed fiduciary duties to the town council.

In his ruling, DJ Ng had found no basis to say that Wong’s influence or favours had resulted in contracts being awarded to 19-ANC or 19-NS2. However, DPP Jiang argued that Wong had directly intervened in tender bids, thus contributing directly to successful securing of contracts.

Defence: Wong had little influence

In Wong’s defence, Melanie Ho from WongPartnership argued that the contracts awarded to 19-ANC or 19-NS2 were on their own merit, as the companies had a reputation as reliable contractors for other town councils.

She reiterated a point made in district court that the award of contracts and quotations was decided collectively by a 14-member Estate Maintenance Committee. In that regard, DJ Ng should have put less weight on finding that Wong was in charge of AMKTC’s operations.

In Chia’s defence, lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam said that it was not “pure premeditated cultivation” of Wong by Chia, but “one where the line between friends and work became blurred and crossed into illegal means”.

In December 2016, media reports said that Wong was being investigated by anti-graft investigators. Wong, who worked for CPG Facilities Management – AMKTC’s managing agent – was asked to go on leave following a complaint filed against him in September 2016. He was removed from his positions at the town council in November that year.

AMKTC oversees the housing estates in Ang Mo Kio GRC. The town council’s chairman is Ang Hin Kee and the other six members are Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Gan Thiam Poh, Intan Azura Mokhtar, Koh Poh Koon, Lam Pin Min and Darryl David.

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