14 men charged in new vice ring case

14 men charged in new vice ring case
One of the 14 men emerging from court on Wednesday. Some of the men came out covering their faces with their hands or pieces of paper.

SINGAPORE - FOURTEEN men aged between 22 and 75 were charged with having commercial sex with a minor on Wednesday in a new vice ring case.

The girl in question was around a month shy of her 18th birthday when they allegedly paid between $40 and $150 for her sexual services at budget hotels and a lodging house in Geylang in May.

Ten of the men indicated that they would plead guilty, while one claimed trial. The other three had lawyers and have yet to make a plea. Another group is expected in court tomorrow over offences relating to the same girl.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Stella Tan Wei Ling applied for a gag order to protect the identity of the minor.

Three men face two charges each.

Project manager Ng Keng Siong, 56, is accused of paying $80 for the girl's services at BudgetOne Hotel at Lorong 18 Geylang on May 20 and 21. Assistant manager Ong Boon Hock, 61, is said to have paid $60 twice to her at a lodging house at Lorong 21 Geylang.

Both were given time to settle their personal affairs and are expected back in court on Oct 2, when they are expected to plead guilty.

The oldest man, Chong Kwong Ann, allegedly paid $70 a time for the minor's services at BudgetOne Hotel on May 21 and 23.

Chong, who is jobless, is expected to plead guilty next Thursday, together with full-time national serviceman Yap Jun Hao, 22; labourer Toh Toh Loh, 60; and bookkeeper Tiah Oon Kai, 66. All three paid $60 each for the girl's services on May 18, 24 and 27 respectively.

Another four men expected to plead guilty on Wednesday are logistics supervisor Yeo Choon Seng, 42; social worker Ng Chak Song, 57; and cleaners Koh Sui Kim, 65, and Low Kia How, 51.

Ng, who was a volunteer at welfare organisation Care Corner, paid $40 to the minor at Lai Ming Hotel while the others each paid her $60 at various hotels.

Housekeeper Lim Chee Seng, 72, who claimed trial to paying $150 for the girl's services at BudgetOne Hotel on May 28, had his case adjourned to Oct 28.

IT manager Shoh Kwan Heng, 42, who allegedly paid $60 to the minor, and treasury adviser Ho Chee Keong, 36, who is alleged to have paid her $80, were represented by Mr Irving Choh.

Their cases and that of undergraduate Ernest Lee Min Chong, 25, whose lawyer is Mr B.S. Gill, will be mentioned on Oct 2.

The maximum penalty for commercial sex with any person under 18 years old is seven years in prison and a fine.

elena@sph.com.sg


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