Construction firm directors jailed for bribing ex-HDB worker over construction project

Wan Ting Koh
HDB Blocks.
HDB Blocks.

Two directors of a construction company who bribed a former Housing Development Board (HDB) officer to be lenient in his supervision of a carpark construction project were each given jail terms on Wednesday (25 October).

Peck Chin Choon, and Chang Chan Nam, both 54, who were from Chang Choon Huat Construction (CCH), partnered the HDB to erect barriers to existing parapets of multi-storey carparks in 1993.

The two conspired to bribe ex-HDB clerk-of-works Soh Chor Huang so that the latter would allow the use of unapproved materials for the construction of the barriers. Peck and Chang were supposed to ask permission for the use of materials not stated in HDB specifications for the project.

On Wednesday, Peck and Chang were sentenced to four months’ and six months’ jail, respectively. They admitted to giving five cash cheques of $2,400 each in gratification to Soh between March and July 1994. Another 17 similar charges involving a total sum of $12,800 were taken into consideration for their sentencing.

For his part in the offences, Soh was jailed nine months and ordered to pay $24,800 in penalty in April this year.

Soh and Chang knew each other before the start of the project and Chang was aware of Soh’s designation in HDB. Soh had also approached Chang before the commencement of the project to ask about a possible collaboration. Both agreed that CCH would be set up for the project and CCH was incorporated in 1993 by Chang and Peck, and Soh’s brother-in-law, Goh Teck Seng. Soh had asked to use Goh’s name instead of his own since he was a government servant.

Goh agreed to register his name but was otherwise not involved in the company. Peck was informed about the plan to set up the company later and he did not object to it. The company began working on the project in 1993 and Chang was appointed the Project Manager. Peck was placed in charge of the site’s supervisory works.

According to the prosecution, both Peck and Chang flouted project specifications by using materials that were not approved by HDB. Both knew HDB’s permission was needed for the use of materials that were not stated in the specifications but chose to give gratification to Soh so that Soh would not report the matter to HDB.

The gratification came in the form of Goh’s salary. Chang, Peck and Goh each received directors’ salaries between January and November 1994. While 20 per cent of Goh’s salary was credited into his Central Provident Fund (CPF) account, the remaining 80 per cent was given to Soh in the form of cash cheques.

Said Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Jasmin Kaur “(Chang) and Peck agreed to issue Goh’s monthly salary in this manner as they wanted Soh to be lenient in his supervision of the HDB carpark barriers installation works carried out by CCH.”

Goh received a total of $6,200 in CPF contributions while Soh received $24,800 in cash cheques. Goh has not been charged in court.

In mitigation, Chang’s lawyer, Yu Jun Wen, said that his client had cooperated fully with the police and pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity. Peck’s lawyer, Selwyn Tan, said that his client had a reduced role as compared with that played by Chang. Peck’s main motive was to care for his siblings at the time of the offences, said the lawyer.

Chang and Peck could have been jailed for up to five years and/or fined up to $100,000 on each charge.