Another day, another sex scandal? Right after ex-CNB chief Ng Boon Gay’s acquittal comes the trial of ex-SCDF chief Peter Lim, who looks like he’s shrunk a few sizes going by new photographs of him in court.
Intriguingly, the star witness, Ms Pang Choi Mui, the woman on the other end of the gratification equation was pushed further down the line of witnesses. Because, the prosecution said, both sides, including defence, could not have “the signposts in this case confirmed” So some disagreement between both sides on the facts of the case.
I suppose the prosecution is thinking real hard about how to make sure that she wouldn’t flip flop on the stand, as Cecilia Sue did over the Ng Boon Gay trial. You know what? I wonder how many bodyguards will be assigned to her. I wonder what else will come out about how CPIB does its work. Truth to tell, the CPIB interrogators came across as pretty sloppy in the Ng Boon Gay case.
So what’s the difference between this case and the last?
a. Seems two other women were involved in the Peter Lim case, but they will be dealt with as separate cases
b. Looks like Lim had a bit more to do with the SCDF tender project under the spotlight because Ms Pang apparently got more “insider’’ information before the tender was even called. Still, her subordinate at Nimrod Engineering says it was normal to go sourcing for stuff before the tender specifications are out.
c. Mrs Peter Lim was NOT in court.
Going by reports on the first day of the trial, the prosecution and the defence seems to be repeating the arguments that were made in the Ng Boon Gay case. I love the way the defence counsel referred to Lim’s indiscretions: “His only wrongdoing here is the commission of a physical encounter.’’
We’re all probably wondering whether details of the physical encounter will be laid out in all its lurid glory, like the last time. Times, dates, places, text messages, phone calls, emails and types of physical activity. We’re all voyeurs, I suppose. (Pssst! It was carpark at Stadium Walk.)
But the more important issue is the application of the law with regards to corruption. The prosecution in the Ng Boon Gay case has asked for the full grounds of decision from the court which I take to mean is a full explanation of why he was acquitted. Only then will it decide whether or not to appeal. So Mr Ng is not off the hook yet. I read the oral judgment of the case: at 32 pages, it seemed pretty full to me. But then, I’m a layman.
What I have always wondered about the case is this question of “corrupt intent’’. I have always thought a person is innocent until proven guilty but it seems this is not true for corruption cases. Once you receive something from someone connected with you in some business way, it is considered “gratification’’. Then to satisfy the “corruption’’ bit, you have to show that you never thought the “gratification’’ came with strings attached (I’m putting it simply).
I thought this would be pretty tough for Mr Ng to rebut but the judge believed him. He was a far better witness than Cecilia Sue, although I guess detractors would say a cop on the stand, ex-CID chief some more, would know how to deal with pesky questions from prosecutors.
Here’s what the judge said: “Thus, although only the intention of the accused behind the instances of fellatio is relevant for the purposes of this trial, I found that both Ms Sue’s and the accused’s intentions were innocuous in giving and receiving the fellatio. I found that the instances of fellatio took place in the context of an intimate relationship. I accepted the accused’s evidence and found that he had no ulterior motive in obtaining them.’’
The judge also added that while there was a “conflict of interest’’, this doesn’t automatically mean you are corrupt.
I’m glad Mr Ng got off. Because if he didn’t, I wonder how many more civil servants would have to be hauled to court, maybe not for sex but for receiving a watch, a pen or a paid-for dinner. Of course, I doubt the CPIB would willy-nilly trot out all and sundry. But big-time civil servants in high profile jobs had better watch out lest they be made an example of to scare the minor ranks to toe the line.
The next question regarding Mr Ng is whether he will be restored to his old job, which I believe should be the case under civil service rules. But seems like the Home Affairs ministry wants to take a crack at him with disciplinary proceedings. Will the public get to know what happens? Will Mr Ng crack and voluntarily resign for bringing the institution into disrepute or something? Mr Ng said he runs to keep himself sane over the past year.
I think he should keep on running.
PS. Please read earlier post Eaten already or not. Or just go to http://www.breakfastnetwork.sg