SINGAPORE — A doctor embroiled in the HIV data leak scandal was accused on Thursday (30 May) of providing illicit drug-injection services to clients for extra income.
Ler Teck Siang, 37, is accused of using his medical skills to provide “slamming” services, which involves administering controlled drugs to customers via injection.
“This is a case of a medical practitioner who knows no bounds in betraying his professional and ethical standards in pursuit of his self-interests,” said Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Wuan during the first day of Ler’s trial.
The doctor, who is currently suspended from practising medicine, is representing himself to contest one charge of possessing a syringe intended for the administration of a controlled drug.
Ler has also claimed trial to one charge of abetting a customer to consume methamphetamine by administering the drug to him at a hotel room in February last year. Another drug charge for failing to provide a urine specimen was stood down for the trial.
Separately, Ler has a pending charge under the Official Secrets Act for failing to take reasonable care of confidential information in relation to his partner Mikhy Farrera Brochez’s leaking of personal data belonging to 14,200 HIV-positive patients.
The former head of the Ministry of Health (MOH)’s National Public Health Unit was also sentenced to two years’ jail in November last year for abetting Brochez in hiding the latter’s HIV status from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) so as to help him get a job in Singapore.
‘Showed no remorse’: DPP
On Thursday, DPP Wuan noted that after Ler was first charged on 28 June 2016, he decided to “supplement his income via illicit sources”.
In its opening statement, the prosecution said that a potential customer named Sim Eng Chee was introduced to Ler sometime in the second half of 2017. Sim had learnt that Ler was a doctor and engaged his “slamming” services on a number of occasions.
The prosecution said that at about 6.27pm on 26 February last year, Sim and Ler met in a room at the Swissotel The Stamford hotel for a “slamming” session. It was then that Ler administered methamphetamine to Sim using a syringe. Ler was paid for his services.
While staying at the Conrad Centennial Hotel on 2 March last year, Sim contacted Ler again to provide the same service.
According to the testimonies of three hotel security staff members, suspected drugs and drug-related paraphernalia – including three packets containing a white substance, a syringe and a blue strap – were found in the room before Sim and Ler entered it.
The duo were later detained at the hotel and the matter was referred to the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB). Officers who searched Ler at the hotel also found a syringe among his belongings.
“When asked what it is for, Ler said, ‘I am a doctor what, I use for it for myself,’” said one of the hotel’s security staff members in court.
Two of the packets were later found to contain methamphetamine while the third held ketamine.
“When the law finally caught up with him, (Ler) showed no remorse, and even tried to use his status as a doctor to protest his arrest,” said DPP Wuan.
Background to the trial
Ler began serving his prison sentence on 21 March this year after an appeal against his cheating charge was dismissed on 11 March. He had been convicted on two cheating charges and two counts of giving false information to a public servant.
In January, the MOH revealed that Brochez – whom Ler married in New York in 2014 – had released the personal details of the HIV-positive patients online. The leaked data included the affected individuals’ names, identification numbers, contact details, HIV test results, and related medical information.
The trial continues.