Public Prosecutor v Wong Chee Meng and others

JudgeJohn Ng
Judgment Date03 December 2019
Neutral Citation[2019] SGDC 244
CourtDistrict Court (Singapore)
Docket NumberDAC 908918/2018 & Ors, MAs 9301/2019/01-02 & 9302/2019/01-02
Published date19 December 2019
Hearing Date14 November 2018,13 November 2018,08 November 2019,22 November 2018,25 September 2018,15 November 2018,29 March 2019,25 March 2019,23 November 2018,26 June 2019,07 November 2018,21 November 2018,26 September 2018,09 November 2018,16 November 2018,20 November 2019,19 November 2018,12 November 2018,08 November 2018,27 September 2018
Plaintiff CounselDPPs Alan Loh, Jiang Ke-Yue and Kelvin Chong
Defendant CounselDCs Melanie Ho and Tang Shang Wei
Citation[2019] SGDC 244
District Judge John Ng:

The Public Prosecutor has filed an appeal against the sentences and the Respondents Wong Chee Meng and Chia Sin Lan have filed cross-appeals against their sentences.

The offenders had pleaded guilty midway through a trial. I delivered the Judgment on Sentence on 20 November 2019. I have nothing to add to the reasons I had given in that judgment which is reproduced below. 20 November 2019


This is a Corruption case involving the General Manager (“GM”) of the Ang Mo Kio Town Council (“AMKTC”) between 2014 and 2016.

Wong Chee Meng (“Victor Wong”) was an employee of CPG Facilities Management Pte Ltd (“CPG Facilities”) from April 2008 to March 2018. He held the appointment of GM of AMKTC from November 2013 to March 2018. Victor Wong admitted to corruptly receiving and obtaining gratification from Chia Sin Lan. Chia Sin Lan is a Director and Shareholder of two companies, namely, 19-ANC Enterprise Pte Ltd (“19-ANC”) and 19-NS2 Enterprise Pte Ltd (“19-NS2”). The gratifications were to further the interests of these two companies, 19-ANC and 19-NS2, in their business dealings with AMKTC.

Summary of the acts of Corruption

It is vitally important in Corruption cases to identify what exactly the offending acts are which the Court is to pass sentence on. Equally significant is the question of who is being punished.

Acts of corruption can occur in circumstances that vary vastly from case to case. There is the simple case of a managing director asking for and accepting a small bribe of $383 as a reward, for showing favour to a printing company in engaging that company to print publicity brochures (Tan Tze Chye v PP [1996] 3 SLR(R) 357). He was fined $5,000 and ordered to pay the penalty of $383. At the other end of the scale was the very serious case of a Deputy Chief Executive of the Public Utilities Board receiving more than 13 million dollars over a period of 18 years to show favour to a contractor, for which he was punished with imprisonment terms of 7 years per charge. He received a total sentence of 14 years’ imprisonment (Choy Hon Tim v PP Magistrate’s Appeal 378/95).

The Corruption case before us involved the GM of a Town Council corruptly obtaining and receiving gratification from a contractor having business dealings with the Town Council. The gratifications were in the form of a discount connected to the purchase of a car by the GM, remittances of monetary loans to the mistress of the GM, entertainment expenses for the GM, financing the employment of the daughter-in-law of the GM and the free use of a telephone service paid for by the contractor. The time period was from end 2014 to 2016.

In some cases of corruption, the gratifications are outright bribes to secure specific contracts. This is not one of them. Instead, this is a case of cultivation by the giver with mutual benefits in mind.

Who is Victor Wong that a contractor would want to ply him with gratifications? Victor Wong was the GM of AMKTC, a position which imbued him with certain powers for him to discharge his duties and responsibilities in the running of the operations of the Town Council. A person occupying this senior position carried with him the perceived ability to grant favours to contractors. The two defendant companies are in the business of providing construction services to various town councils in Singapore.

One of the key public interests that the law against corruption seeks to protect is the fidelity of the principal-agent relationship or employer-employee relationship in both the public and private sectors. The relationship here is that between the GM Victor Wong and AMKTC. In this relationship, there is the trust reposed in and the duty owed by GM Victor Wong to AMKTC. AMKTC is the statutory body created to carry out works within a residential town to benefit its residents. GM Victor Wong owed a duty to AMKTC to avoid a conflict of interests situation between him and the Town Council.

The potential for compromising one’s duties to one’s principal or employer is a key area of concern in the prevention of corruption. The gratifications, specified in the three convicted charges and the two charges taken into consideration for sentencing (“TIC charges”), have the effect of corrupting the relationship of GM Victor Wong and the Town Council to the detriment of its residents.

There is no requirement for there to be an actual compromise of one’s duty for the relationship between employer and employee to be corrupted. Where there is an actual compromise of one’s duty, it would be an aggravating factor in sentencing. Any actual detriment or loss suffered would make the acts of corruption more serious or aggravated.

It is instructive to look at the CPG Facilities’ Code of Conduct, which is a tool to help officers stay in the clear and remain corrupt-free. Abiding by the Code of Conduct protects both the integrity of the agents or employees and safeguards the interests of the principal or employer. The situations in which the officers sometimes find it awkward, to reject meal invitations or gifts, are resolved by the simple step of disclosure, which would negate any suggestions of corruption or impropriety.

It was suggested by counsel that there were innocent intentions behind the gratifications, such as the friendship, which had developed between the giver and the receiver. It might be true that they subsequently became friends but such a suggestion of mixed motives misses the point. The relationship had already been tainted by corrupt intent when the car discount was authorised by Chia Sin Lan, even before they knew each other.

Offending acts of Wong Chee Meng

The offending acts of Victor Wong are encapsulated in the three charges he pleaded guilty to, together with two TIC charges. The first act of corruption occurred around December 2014, when he asked, through Alisa, for a discount in the purchase of a car that 19-ANC was looking to sell. At this point of time, Chia Sin Lan and Victor Wong did not know each other personally. Alisa discussed the request with Chia Sin Lan and he agreed to sell the car, owned by 19-ANC, to Victor Wong. Chia Sin Lan made the decision as “the directing mind and will” of the company, 19-ANC. After taking into account the purchase of the old car of Victor Wong by 19-NS2, the net effect was the enjoyment of a $13,500 discount by Victor Wong in buying the car from 19-ANC. Chia Sin Lan had authorised these transactions to gain favour for 19-ANC and 19-NS2 with Victor Wong as he was the GM of AMKTC.

From May 2015, Chia Sin Lan and Victor Wong started going out for entertainment at KTV Lounges. After going out together on a few occasions, Victor Wong spoke to Chia Sin Lan, at around June 2015, about needing money for the renovation of his mistress’ house in China. Chia Sin Lan agreed to look into it and subsequently remitted RMB 80,000 to Wong’s mistress and did so through an intermediary. Sometime in November 2015, Victor Wong again approached Chia Sin Lan to help his mistress after she had fallen prey to an investment scam. Chia Sin Lan remitted RMB 50,000 to her through the intermediary. In total, Chia Sin Lan had agreed to and remitted the sum of RMB 130,000 to the mistress of Victor Wong in order to advance the business interests of 19-ANC and 19-NS2 with AMKTC.

On 29 occasions, between May 2015 and July 2016, Victor Wong and Chia Sin Lan frequented KTV lounges, restaurants, massage spas and a hotel. Chia Sin Lan paid for the expenditure, amounting to a total of S$34,070.04. These expenses were paid by Chia Sin Lan to advance the interests of the two companies.

Victor Wong also admitted to two TIC charges. The first TIC charge was in respect of 19-ANC paying the salary of the daughter-in-law of Victor Wong when she was in the employment of 4-Ever Engineering Pte Ltd. The second TIC charge was for accepting the gratification of the free use of a mobile phone line. The phone charges of S$2,527.76 were paid for by 19-ANC.

As I had mentioned earlier, this is not a case of the giver asking for a specific favour to be bestowed by the receiver. The gravamen of Victor’s acts of corruption is in knowingly receiving the benefits given with corrupt intent by Chia Sin Lan, representing 19-ANC and 19-NS2, with the objective of advancing their business dealings with AMKTC.

Victor had allowed himself to be cultivated by a contractor. It started with Victor asking for and receiving a discount in the purchase of a car owned by 19-ANC. This was followed by Victor’s request in June 2015 for Chia Sin Lan to help financially with the renovation of the house of Victor’s mistress in China. This first request for financial assistance in relation to his mistress occurred very early on, after just getting acquainted with Chia Sin Lan. Later in November 2015, Victor made a second request for financial help for his mistress that Chia Sin Lan again obliged. Throughout the period from May 2015 to July 2016, arising from the frequenting of entertainment outlets by the both of them (occasionally with others), Chia Sin Lan incurred expenses amounting to S$34,070.04. As a result of the gratifications, which was intended by Chia Sin Lan to advance the business interests of 19-ANC and 19-NS2, Victor Wong became beholden to Chia Sin Lan and the two companies.

As the General Manager of AMKTC, Victor Wong was the overall in-charge of the operations of the Town Council. As spelt out in the admitted Joint Statement of Facts, his duties included overseeing and providing his inputs on the selection of contractors for works at AMKTC. Victor was also privy to important contract information and was also able to attend meetings where contractors were recommended and selected for projects and works at AMKTC. As GM of AMKTC, he was in charge of a team of contract managers who see to the process of evaluating tenders and...

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