Sex is about contact, not contract

In News Reports, Society on February 19, 2013 at 1:20 am

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

  1. “I’m glad Mr Ng got off.”

    *schoolboy giggle*

  2. Hi, Ms Bertha Harian,

    Ex-CNB chief NBG’s acquittal cld b expected as star prosecution witness
    Cecilia Sue was consistent despite her flip-flops in court on this single
    thread, viz., that she had a long-running consensual and intimate
    relationship with him that preceded her company’s initial interest in the
    contract. It wld b a different situation if her fellation for him was
    given following her company’s interest in the contract with CNB when there
    wld b more direct implications of corrupt intent by NBG.
    On a different issue, to wit, the WP’s public statements on its future
    plans, one really has to delve deeper into the realpoliticks of our little
    red dot to know the goings-on than merely accept them at face value. There
    can b little doubt that the ground has shifted quite significantly in the
    opp’s favour for the WP to attract enuff talents, elitist and ‘commoner’,
    to form the next govt and it wld not be surprising if the party fields
    candidates island-wide come next GE. But and of course, given their
    present minority status in parl, they’re not ready to form the next govt –
    a statement of fact and not to be read as intent.
    Think about it.

    B rgds.


  3. 1. In addition to the “sloppy” work during the interrogation process (e.g. DyDir Teng leaving out the word “NOT” when recording Ms Sue’s statement – this error changed the meaning of the statement recorded), I am also puzzled by CPIB’s role in providing personnel that escorted Ms Sue to court on multiple days.

    2.Since CPIB personnel are paid by taxpayers’ money, it would be appropriate to share
    – Who / what were they protecting Ms Sue from?
    – Is such protection duties normally handled by CPIB or other branches of SPF?
    – If by some other branches of the SPF, why weren’t they used?

    3. I agree we need clearer guidelines on what is / isn’t deem as corruption / inducement to corrupt / receiving gratification. You cited examples of a watch, pen or paid-for dinner but the list is potentially endless – and the gratification need not have a monetary value associated with it.

    4. However, I disagree that there should be different application of the law for “big time civil servants in high profile jobs” versus minor ranks. Who would determine the persons who are “big time” & the jobs that are “high profile? And would this drive the unintended consequence of the most capable not willing to be promoted to the top positions?

    5. I also wonder if we can have different rules of public sector organizations vs private sector organizations. Logically the same standard should apply – otherwise talent will move from 1 sector to the other (I sense from public to private)……..what about GLCs – are they private or public or something in between? With the accepted process of civil servants joining the private sector after their term of service, it would be logical for civil servants to build relationships with companies in the private sector while still in the public service. The issue is to ensure all of us understand the rules & do not break them.
    I don’t think it’s fair or productive that civil servants have to explain each time a photo of them with a private sector person is posted on the Internet (e.g. Police Commissioner Ng & MP Teo) – the “innocent until proven guilty” stance should apply.

    6. Ms. Sue was also quoted as stating another CNB staff (Paul Chew) told her the budget for the tender in question. If true (no disrespect to Ms Sue, but her testimony has quite a few inconsistencies) wouldn’t this be a breach of confidentiality that all public servants have signed as a term of their employment? Has this been investigated? If not, it might give the impression that there was selective prosecution – the “make an example of to scare the minor ranks to toe the line” illustration you gave.

    7. Lastly, I think many of us would like the same level of detailed investigation done (& revealed should it goes to trial) for all cases of corruption being investigated. The Brompton Bike case and the recent Football Match Fixing cases come to mind.

  4. It’s ironic that the 20 statements and thousands of words collected by the CPIB were useless, and Ng Boon Gay was acquitted largely on the evidence of three unguarded SMSes so brief that they add up to under 10 words.

    All the key people in the NBG and the professor’s case agree on one thing – that the CPIB have pressurised them into saying something to fit the CPIB’s own narrative on things.

    Is it correct and proper for the CPIB to interrogate Darinne Ko hours before her final examination (surely not coincidental?), lock her for hours, and stress her to breaking point? It must take a lot of psychological pressure to have made Cecilia Sue change course dramatically halfway through 10 witness statements.

    We’re dealing with humans, not terrorists. The CPIB has no business treating people like they’re criminals with something to confess even before a trial has started. We already have antagonists in the legal system – public prosecutors – who excel at dismantling witnesses’ logic.

    In the information age, leaving an unguarded digital trail behind is inevitable. How could CPIB even press charges against Ng Boon Gay, on the evidence of one anonymous informant with unknown agenda, one witness who changed course halfway during intensive interrogation, and no smoking gun?

    What I really hope for is a follow-up lawsuit – maybe against Cecilia, or NBG suing for damages. Because I think that would put a bit more of a spotlight on how CPIB does things. The way they do it is no help to justice, but a major impediment.

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