Lim-linked firms placed bids fitting SCDF's needs

WHEN a tender for radiation monitors was put up by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) in early April 2011, only general specifications were provided.

However, three out of the five bidding companies gave submissions which fit the government agency's requirements. And two of those bids, by Nimrod Engineering and Singapore Radiation Centre, had female employees linked to former SCDF commissioner Peter Lim Sin Pang. The third company was Secom, the vendor from whom SCDF had bought similar equipment.

This was revealed yesterday by prosecution witness Soh Zi Quan, who was formerly an officer with the SCDF's hazardous-materials department.

He took the stand on Day Four of Lim's trial. Lim's lawyer, Mr Hamidul Haq, argued that those companies could have searched for previous tender documents relating to the purchase of SCDF's existing radiation monitors, and those are available in the public domain.

Lim, 52, is facing one charge of obtaining oral sex on May 2, 2010 from Nimrod's former general manager, Ms Pang Chor Mui, in exchange for advancing the business interests of Nimrod. Nine other similar charges against Lim have been stood down pending this trial, with two linked to Ms Lee Wei Hoon, the director of Singapore Radiation Centre. The other seven are linked to Ms Esther Goh, the business-development director of information-technology firm NCS.

It was revealed that SCDF had a budget of close to $1 million for the project. Nimrod submitted the lowest bid for the first tender, but the tender was subsequently cancelled.

When a second tender was put up, the Singapore Radiation Centre placed the lowest bid, said Lieutenant-Colonel Soh, who is now a specialist at the Manpower Ministry.

He told the court that the first tender was cancelled as his assistant director, Ms Esther Low, "was not pleased" with Nimrod's equipment after a demonstration. She had felt that the range of detection was not as large as that of the equipment they were using.

Colonel Roger Wong, assistant director of SCDF's purchasing branch under its logistics department, also took the stand. When questioned, he admitted that it is a "conflict of interest" if the chairman of the tender board contacted a potential supplier regarding SCDF's intention to purchase radiation equipment.

Lim was the chairman of tender board A, which can approve purchases below $1 million. The court also heard that a senior SCDF officer called Col Wong a week before Jan 14, telling him that Lim wished to "find out information about the tenders involved in this case".

Ms Pang is expected to take the stand when the trial resumes on March 18.

joyfang@sph.com.sg

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