Doctor involved in HIV data leak claimed he was providing massage service not illegal drug injections to man

Ler Teck Siang. (Yahoo News Singapore file photo)

SINGAPORE — The doctor who is accused of providing illegal drug injections to a man has denied doing so, and claimed that he was providing massage services to him.

Ler Teck Siang, who is currently suspended from practice, argued at his trial on Thursday (11 July) that prosecution witness Sim Eng Chye had intentionally misrepresented the service provided by him. He claimed that no methamphetamine injections were involved in the service.

Ler is accused of using his medical skills to provide “slamming services”. A slamming service involves a person administering controlled drugs to customers via intravenous injections.

The 37-year-old, who is representing himself, is contesting one charge of possessing a syringe intended for the administration of a controlled drug and one charge of abetting Sim 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.

Sim, a management trainee, had earlier testified that he met Ler in August 2017 and received slamming services from him until the duo were caught on 2 March last year.

On Wednesday, Sim testified that Ler had charged him $40 for each injection and also billed him for one-way transport. Whenever he required Ler’s service, Sim would text the doctor, who would then travel to wherever Sim requested to provide the slamming service. Sim would ask for the service before he engaged in sex with other male partners.

During cross examination on Thursday, Ler suggested to Sim that in one of their first few meetings, he had noticed a syringe lying around and asked Sim if he was a diabetic.

“I recognised it as an insulin syringe as I work in the healthcare industry,” said Ler, adding that Sim had asked him about the different brands of syringes. “So I said that I would get back to you on that,” said Ler.

Sim said he did not recall any of these incidents.

Ler responded, “I put to you (that you) completely and deliberately misrepresented the nature of my service to you and it did not involve any injection of meth at all.”

“I disagree,” replied Sim.

On 1 March last year, Sim booked a room at the Conrad Centennial Hotel. The next day, he allegedly decided to engage Ler’s slamming services and texted him and other sex partners while purchasing drugs from Geylang.

When Sim returned to the hotel, he met Ler at the lobby and the two went to the hotel room. However, Sim was unable to gain access to the room with his key card. After approaching the reception to have his card checked, Sim was caught by police officers. Ler was arrested at around the same time.

Sim came clean about his drug-taking offences during investigations. He was jailed for consumption and possession of methamphetamine and began serving his sentence on 24 September last year. He is currently serving his term for a home detention order at a halfway house.

As part of his defence, Ler also asked Sim if he had accepted a plea deal from the prosecution regarding his drug offence. Sim denied receiving such a deal.

“We took drugs, we made judgment lapses to engage in substance abuse. The reality of my arrest set in, I faced up to the (consequences) of my action and there is no deal,” said Sim.

“And I also urge you to really face up to it.”

Sim said he had nothing to gain by testifying in court and denied framing Ler.

Separately, Ler has a pending charge under the Official Secrets Act for failing to take reasonable care of confidential information. The charge is related to his partner Mikhy Farrera Brochez’s alleged act of leaking personal data belonging to 14,200 HIV-positive patients.

Ler had access to the data in the HIV registry as he was formerly the head of the Ministry of Health (MOH)’s National Public Health Unit.

Ler is also currently serving a two-year jail sentence for abetting Brochez to hide the latter’s HIV status from the Ministry of Manpower. He did so in order to help his partner - whom he married in New York in 2014 - land a job in Singapore.

In November last year, Ler was sentenced for the offence. His appeal against his conviction and sentence earlier this year was dismissed.

The trial continues on Friday with Ler expected to testify. Ler told the court that he will be adducing two witnesses as part of his case.

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