Kwang Boon Keong Peter v Public Prosecutor

JurisdictionSingapore
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeYong Pung How CJ
Judgment Date30 April 1998
Neutral Citation[1998] SGHC 144
Citation[1998] SGHC 144
SubjectLoss of original document,s 67(1)(c) Evidence Act (Cap 97, 1997 Ed),Witnesses,Corroboration,Whether all four elements proved beyond reasonable doubt,Receiving 'ang pows' corruptly as gratification,Uncorroborated evidence of payor of gratification,Whether photocopy of document admissible,Impeaching witnesses’ credibility,Whether to treat such evidence with special caution,Purpose and effect of impeachment,Criminal Law,s 6(a) Prevention of Corruption Act (Cap 241, 1993 Ed),Evidence,Elements of offence under s 6(a),Whether credit of accused rightly impeached,ss 116 illustration (b) & 135 Evidence Act (Cap 97, 1997 Ed),Prevention of Corruption Act,ss 147, 150 & 157(c) Evidence Act (Cap 97, 1997 Ed),Admissibility of evidence,Impeachment,Criminal Procedure and Sentencing,Oral testimony of accused inconsistent with previous statement,Statutory offences
Date30 April 1998
Defendant CounselRD Gangatharan (Deputy Public Prosecutor)
Plaintiff CounselEdmond Pereira (Edmond Pereira & Partners)
Docket NumberMagistrate's Appeal No 199 of 1997
Publication Date19 September 2003
Judgment:

YONG PUNG HOW CJ

This appeal arose out of the conviction of the appellant by the learned district judge of three charges under s 6(a) of the Prevention of Corruption Act (Cap 241, 1993 Ed) (the Act) for the receipt of red packets (ang pows) on three occasions corruptly as gratification or reward. For DAC 9964/97, the appellant was fined $12,000 and in default, three months` imprisonment. For DAC 9965/97, he was fined $6,000 and in default, one month`s imprisonment. For DAC 9966/97, he was fined $6,000 and in default, one month`s imprisonment. The district judge imposed a further penalty of $7,000 and in default, two months` imprisonment, pursuant to s 13 of the Act. Being dissatisfied with the decision, the appellant appealed before this court for a reversal of his conviction.

2.The appeal came up for hearing before me on 3 March 1998. At the conclusion of the hearing, I dismissed the appeal and will now set out the grounds of my decision.

3. The charges

The appellant faced the following three amended charges in this case:

DAC 9964/97

You, Kwang Boon Keong, Peter

M/39 years, NRIC No S1271640J

are charged that you, on a day between January and February 1989, in Singapore, being an agent, to wit, a senior purchasing manager of Conner Peripherals Pte Ltd, did corruptly accept from one Ng Sin Kwee, the sole proprietor of Exim & Manufacturer Enterprise, for yourself, a gratification of a sum of $5,000 as a reward for doing an act in relation to your principal`s affairs, to wit, purchasing fasteners from the said Exim & Manufacturer Enterprise, and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under s 6(a) of the Prevention of Corruption Act (Cap 241).

DAC 9965/97

You, Kwang Boon Keong Peter

M/39 years, NRIC No S1271640J

are charged that you, on a day between January and February 1992, in Singapore, being an agent, to wit, a materials director of Conner Peripherals Pte Ltd, did corruptly accept from one Ng Sin Kwee, the sole proprietor of Exim & Manufacturer Enterprise, for yourself, a gratification of a sum of $1,000 as a reward for doing an act in relation to your principal`s affairs, to wit, purchasing fasteners from the said Exim & Manufacturer Enterprise, and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under s 6(a) of the Prevention of Corruption Act (Cap 241).

DAC 9966/97

You, Kwang Boon Keong Peter

M/39 years, NRIC No S1271640J

are charged that you, on a day in January 1993, in Singapore, being an agent, to wit, a materials director of Conner Peripherals Pte Ltd, did corruptly accept from one Ng Sin Kwee, the sole proprietor of Exim & Manufacturer Enterprise, for yourself, a gratification of a sum of $1,000 as a reward for doing an act in relation to your principal`s affairs, to wit, purchasing fasteners from the said Exim & Manufacturer Enterprise, and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under s 6(a) of the Prevention of Corruption Act (Cap 241).

4. The facts

The appellant was the purchasing manager of Conner Peripherals Pte Ltd (Conner) from 1987 to 1988. He was subsequently promoted to the position of senior purchasing manager in 1989. In 1991, he was promoted to be the materials manager. In 1992, he received another promotion to the post of director of materials. He resigned from Conner in March 1993 and took up employment with another company, Maxtor Peripherals, in Hong Kong from May 1993 to November 1993. He returned to Singapore and worked with Maxtor Singapore until September 1994 when he tendered his resignation. He joined IBM Singapore as the director of procurement when they set up a new factory here in September 1994. He resigned from IBM shortly before the trial below.

5.In July 1996, Ng Sim Kwee (PW3), the sole proprietor of Exim & Manufacturer Enterprise (Exim), which supplied fasteners to Conner, was called up for an interview by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) in connection with an investigation into the giving of `ang pows` and other gifts corruptly. In particular, PW3 was questioned with regards to two documents: the first showed a list of names with varying amounts of money corresponding to each name for the Chinese New Year period in 1992 and 1993. The second document was of a similar nature for the Chinese New Year period in 1989. These documents were tendered by the prosecution as exhs P4 and P5 respectively. The two documents were allegedly evidence of gifts or `ang pows` which PW3 had given to the people on the list during the festive season in each of the three years. PW3 told the investigating officer at the CPIB that he gave `ang pows` to the appellant on three occasions, in 1989, 1992 and 1993. The appellant was subsequently charged under s 6(a) of the Act for accepting the `ang pows` corruptly on the three occasions.

6.The exact dates and circumstances surrounding each occasion of the alleged act of corruption by the appellant was subject to much dispute. The origin and contents of exhs P4 and P5 were also not clarified. As such, the facts and discrepancies arising out of these events accorded further attention.

7.The events in 1989, 1992 and 1993 were looked at in turn. With regard to the occasion in 1989, PW3 testified that he informed the investigating officer at the CPIB that he gave an `ang pow` of $5,000 to the appellant in February 1989. He denied telling the officer that the appellant was the materials director then (it was not disputed at the trial that the appellant was the senior purchasing manager at that time). Besides remembering giving the appellant $5,000 over a lunch or dinner sometime before Chinese New Year (the Chinese New Year holidays fell on 6 and 7 February 1989), he did not remember the details, such as the denomination of the notes, the size of the red packet or the exact date he gave the `ang pow`. He told the CPIB that he was certain that he gave the appellant the money as it was reflected in exh P5, which contained a record of his payment. The appellant denied receiving the money. At the trial, he testified that he met PW3 on a day during the Chinese New Year period after the public holidays for lunch in a Chinese restaurant in the Geylang area. After lunch, in the car, PW3 offered a red packet to the appellant but he rejected it. He did not accept the `ang pow` as he felt it was not ethical since it would be a bribe. Besides, he did not want to put himself in a position which might compromise Conner`s relationship with a supplier vis-a-vis another supplier. This was contradictory to his statement to the CPIB where he stated:

It is true that SK had on about 2 to 3 occasions, tried to give red packets to me during the festive seasons. As far as I could recall, the first occasion was around 1989 before the Chinese New Year period wheh (sic) he visited me at my office and invited me for lunch.

With respect to the second occasion in 1992, PW3 testified that he gave the appellant an `ang pow` of $1,000 before Chinese New Year (the Chinese New Year holidays fell on 4 and 5 February 1992). Again, he could not recall exactly when and where this took place. The appellant denied taking the `ang pow`. Under cross-examination, he added that the occasion took place on a day after the Chinese New Year public holidays but during the festive season in a similar fashion as that in 1989. With regard to the third occasion in 1993, PW3 said that he met the appellant three to four weeks before Chinese New Year (the Chinese New Year holidays fell on 23 and 24 January 1993) and gave him a $1,000 `ang pow` under similar circumstances. However, he could not remember the exact date. Under cross-examination, upon the defence counsel tendering evidence to show that the appellant was in China from September 1992 to 21 January 1993 when he returned to Singapore for a holiday and left for China on 26 January 1993, PW3 varied his testimony:

Q: If Peter was in Singapore in January only from 21 to 26 January, you would have seen him?

A: Yes.

Q: But this is contrary to your evidence earlier that you saw him three to four weeks before the Chinese New Year?

A: As I have said many times, red packets were given to him before the Chinese New Year.

Q: You said you gave him the red packets three to four weeks before Chinese New Year. But my instructions are that he was not in Singapore during that time?

A: It was a `guesstimate` time frame ie a rough estimate of three to four weeks. I`ve definitely given him the red packet before the first day of the Chinese New Year.

PW3 admitted that he did not know that the appellant was in China and returned only on 22 January 1993. Under cross-examination, the appellant denied ever meeting up with PW3 during the short period when he was in Singapore. However, this testimony was somewhat contrary to his statement to the CPIB where he recalled that there were three such occasions in 1989, 1991 and 1992. Besides the incident in 1989 cited above, the appellant pointed to two other occasions in his statement:

As far as I could recall, there was one other occasion in 1992 where S K also wanted to give me a red packet during the Chinese New Year period.

To the best of my recollections, there was one other occasions (sic) where he also wanted to give me red packet which I think was in 1991.

8.PW3 said that his intentions for giving `ang pows` were three-fold: first, it was in appreciation for past support; secondly, it was to maintain good working relationships; thirdly, it served as a gift for the festive season. If a person did not accept the `ang pow` the first time round, he would not offer it again. He also testified that the did not give `ang pows` in 1990 and 1991 as he was too busy. He maintained that his meeting with the appellant all took place before the Chinese New Year holidays began.

9.The circumstances surrounding the origin and production of exhs P4 and P5 were looked at as they were the key pieces of documentary evidence tendered by the prosecution. Exhibits P4 and P5 were...

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