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Ex-SCDF chief's lawyer: Who would offer their body and soul for $130?

Nimrod manager Lee Yong Chin said ex-boss Ms Pang Chor Mui didn't get any commission from contracts as she was not a shareholder. -TNP

Fri, Feb 22, 2013
The New Paper

Peter Lim faces one charge of corruptly obtaining oral sex from Ms Pang Chor Mui. In this picture, he is seen leaving court with his lawyers for lunch on February 20.

SINGAPORE - The woman at the centre of former Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) commissioner Peter Benedict Lim Sin Pang's sex-for-contracts trial did not receive any commission from her company's contracts.

Ms Pang Chor Mui, the then-general manager of Nimrod Engineering, a security solutions company that had dealings with SCDF, was also not a shareholder, the court heard on Tuesday.

Nimrod's sales manager, Mr Lee Yong Chin, said this under cross-examination from Lim's lawyer, Mr Hamidul Haq, on the second day of the trial.

Mr Lee said he is one of the company's shareholders and receives a 1 per cent commission on sales.

Mr Haq then drew the court's attention to a previous contract for $13,000 that SCDF had awarded Nimrod in 2009 for walk-through metal detectors.

Mr Lee told the court that his commission for this was $130. To which Mr Haq responded: "I wanted to know who would offer their body and soul for that amount."

Lim, 52, faces one charge of corruptly obtaining oral sex from Ms Pang in exchange for showing favour and advancing Nimrod's business interests with the SCDF.

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
Click on thumbnail to view (Photos: ST, TNP, Internet, Big Splash)

The prosecution claims that Lim had contacted Ms Pang to inquire about the supply of radiation portal monitors (RPMs) to SCDF when its need for the equipment was not yet publicly known.

Nimrod, which did not supply RPMs at the time, subsequently submitted a bid to supply the equipment to SCDF. The firm usually deals with security products such as walk-through metal detectors and X-ray scanners.

It submitted its bid when the SCDF called for 12RPMs on April 6, 2011. Mr Lee, the prosecution's second witness, told the court Nimrod's bid was about $400,000.

RPMs are walk-through devices that detect radioactive sources. They look similar to the metal detectors that the public must walk through when entering high-security places.

The court heard that this tender was cancelled in October that year.

Mr Lee said this was because SCDF wanted to "review some of the specifications". The SCDF called for a second tender in December that year and Mr Lee said it is "still pending".

Mr Haq asked Mr Lee if Nimrod had behaved corruptly in any of its previous contracts, which included providing security solutions for the Youth Olympic Games and the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix.

Mr Lee said no, and asked Mr Haq if he was kidding. District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim stepped in and curtly said the lawyer was not.

Only contact with SCDF

Mr Lee also told the court that all the documents for the tender were prepared by him and that he was the only person from Nimrod who had any contact with the SCDF officers.

He said he dealt with four SCDF officers, none of whom was Lim.

Mr Lee said he was informed over the phone by an SCDF officer he identified as Captain Soh that the first tender would be cancelled. He added that Captain Soh also told him that SCDF would be putting up a second tender.

In Nimrod's resubmission for the second tender for the RPM, it offered the same machine and model to the SCDF as in the first tender, Mr Lee said.

Asked by Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Tan Kiat Pheng if Ms Pang was involved in sales, Mr Lee said she was involved "but internally...and she did not meet with clients".

Mr Lee said he reported to Ms Pang with documents and got directions from her.

The prosecution also tried to draw a link that Lim was involved in the procurement process. The court heard that after companies submit their tenders to the SCDF, their proposals are viewed by the evaluation committee.

This committee prepares an evaluation report to be submitted to the tender board which Lim was part of. Due to his position in the SCDF, he had the power to refuse or accept the evaluation committee's recommendation as to whether or not to accept the tender.

DPP Hon Yi highlighted some provisions in the instruction manual for civil servants, and one of them stated: "An officer's private interests should be separate from his public duties.

"There should be no conflict of interest between an officer's official position and his work, and his activities outside his official duties."

Responding to a question from DPP Hon, the SCDF's logistics department director, Colonel Chin Lai Fong, the prosecution's third witness, said based on the instruction manual, officers should not participate in the tendering process should there be a conflict of interest.

She added: "If you know the supplier who is participating in the tender process...you should void yourself from participating in the tender."

She said in the event that the commissioner is not available or is unable to sign, the SCDF's senior director of emergency service could step in. And if this senior director is unavailable or unable to sign, the senior director of corporate service can take his or her place.

There is always an alternative member, the court heard.

The court also heard that a few days after the 2011 Japan earthquake and the nuclear plant accidents at Fukushima, Lim had informed the SCDF's HazMat (hazardous materials) department to source for more RPMs in case the nuclear situation got worse.

At that time, the SCDF had six RPMs, of which some were faulty.

Explaining how the SCDF decided to call for tenders, Colonel Chin said the supplier who had previously provided the RPMs was quoting a "very steep" price and that repairing the faulty RPMs would have cost "more than the net book value".

The trial continued on Wednesday.

tnp@sph.com.sg


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