Woman's firm 'knew about tender in advance'

Former SCDF chief Peter Lim leaving the Subordinate Courts on Monday flanked by his lawyers Hamidul Haq (left) and Bala Chandran after day one of the trial. The prosecution argued that Ms Pang’s firm had advance knowledge of an SCDF tender to provide walk-through radiation detectors.

SINGAPORE - Did Ms Pang Chor Mui's company know about a government tender before it was announced?

If not, why was an employee suddenly researching radiation equipment that the company had never supplied before, allowing it to submit a bid just in time?

These were the key questions in court on Monday as both sides scrutinised the timeline of events on the first day of former civil defence boss Peter Lim Sin Pang's corruption trial.

The prosecution argues that Ms Pang's firm, Nimrod Engineering, had advance knowledge of the tender to provide walk- through radiation detectors. This, it alleges, was because she had agreed to give Lim sexual favours in return for a business advantage.

However, the defence countered that there was nothing odd about the fact that the company was researching the equipment before the tender was announced, because it was in the security line.

The first witness called to the stand was Nimrod Engineering's business development manager Raymond Tan Peng Leng.

He told Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Kiat Pheng that Ms Pang, the firm's general manager, had asked him to research walk- through radiation portals in March 2011, about a month before the tender was called.

But he later said he did not sense anything abnormal or special about this as the Japanese earthquake and tsunami had just occurred.

At that point, Nimrod Engineering did not sell the portals. So Mr Tan sent an e-mail to an American supplier that did.

"What I can remember is she (Ms Pang) asked me to look for a walk-through detector that can detect radioactive sources," he said.

"It is similar to our walk-through metal detector except that it can detect radiation sources, rather than metal."

By March 24, he was in touch with the American company and its Asia-Pacific distributor, and had quotations for two models of radiation detection portal.

He told the court that he then passed the pricing information to Ms Pang.

However, nothing much happened until April 21, when he first received specifications for the tender from a colleague. At that point, there was a flurry of e-mail exchanges between him and the distributor as he tried to obtain information necessary for the deal.

But Mr Tan said that it did not send him important documents that were necessary for compliance purposes until May 3, 2011, the day the tender closed. This meant Nimrod Engineering did not submit its bid until about an hour before the deadline.

Mr Tan said Ms Pang had not given him many specific details about what he was meant to search for. But he recalled her asking him to look for walk-through detectors even though there are also hand-held and drive-through versions.

"She just asked me to look for this product: no special instruction, (and) I don't remember there's any deadline," he said. "I thought she saw some potential in this product and asked me to look into this."

Under cross-examination by defence counsel Hamidul Haq, Mr Tan agreed that he was essentially researching blind.

He was "very much in the dark" on specifics such as budget and specifications, and was "trying (his) luck" with the supplier. Mr Tan added that it probably took him one hour to get the distributor's contact details while surfing the Internet.

Day 2 trial: Feb 19, 2013
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Day 1 trial: Feb 18, 2013
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Where the alleged offences took place
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