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Peter Lim 'hurt SCDF's reputation'

The court emphasises that Lim's corrupt behaviour is most unbecoming for a highly-ranked public service officer. -ST
Walter Sim

Sun, Jun 16, 2013
The Straits Times

Former Chief of the Singapore Civil Defence Force Peter Lim has been convicted for corruptly obtaining sexual gratification from a female employee of Nimrod in exchange for furthering the company's business interests with the SCDF. The judge notes that as the highest-ranked officer of SCDF, Lim was expected to lead by example and "display unimpeachable conduct", but his actions have brought "embarrassment to the public service" and loss of reputation to the SCDF.

SINGAPORE - Former Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) chief Peter Lim Sin Pang cut a defeated figure as he sat hunched in the dock yesterday while the district judge read out her grounds for his six-month jail sentence.

At times, he shook his head, furrowed his eyebrows and rubbed his temples. But rarely did he make eye contact with District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim during the brief 20-minute hearing.

In sentencing Lim to jail, the district judge repeatedly emphasised that his corrupt behaviour was unbecoming of the highest-ranking officer in the SCDF.

"Every misdemeanour that a public servant commits, especially a high-ranking public officer, has the effect of lowering, in the eyes of the public, the standing of the institution he serves and unfairly casts a negative light on the public service as a whole," said District Judge Hamidah.

Lim, a former Public Service Commission overseas scholarship recipient, was found guilty of one count of corruption for obtaining sex from Ms Angie Pang Chor Mui, 49, on May 2, 2010. This was in exchange for furthering the business interests of her then employer Nimrod Engineering.

He later admitted to seven of the nine other similar corruption charges he faced for trysts with two other women, which had been stood down earlier in the high profile sex-for-contracts trial.

The fact that Lim was a first-time offender had "little mitigating value", said the district judge.

Given his "position of significant importance", he was "expected to lead by example and display unimpeachable conduct", she added.

In explaining why a deterrent sentence was needed to "quell public disquiet and unease", District Judge Hamidah said Lim's actions led to "embarrassment to the public service, loss of reputation of the SCDF, as well as time and costs expended in investigation".

On the contrary, the "hefty fine" or short custodial sentence which defence counsel Hamidul Haq had sought in mitigation is inappropriate because "it would trivialise the severity" of Lim's offences.

Another aggravating factor was Lim's premeditated actions that led to the oral sex act on Ms Pang, a divorced mother of one.

Peter Lim found guilty of corruption
Click on thumbnail to view (File photos: ST, TNP)

District Judge Hamidah had earlier noted that this took place despite Lim and Ms Pang having no more than "a superficial relationship", and having reconnected after losing touch for nearly a decade.

Lim had led Ms Pang to a secluded spot at the Stadium Walk carpark, and asked her directly if she wanted to have sex with him, the judge found.

While Ms Pang was "not unwilling, helpless or naive", she was influenced by Lim's position of power and did not want to jeopardise Nimrod's dealings with the SCDF.

That was why the judge disagreed with the defence's plea that Lim's actions were on the lower end of culpability, even though there was no coercion in the sex act.

Further, Lim's call to Ms Pang some 10 months after the sexual act, enquiring about radiation portal monitors, had "conferred a business advantage" on Nimrod.

Even if there was no tampering with the eventual procurement process, this had "undermined the integrity" and "tarnished the image of the Government as being transparent and fair in all its dealings".

The judge noted, as mitigating factors, that Lim had over his 25-year career contributed to SCDF and the wider society.

He had also "cooperated substantially" with Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau officers during the probe, volunteering information such as the location and timing of the sex act.

Furthermore, even though the judge had said Lim's defence was "distasteful", "evasive" and "untruthful" in painting Ms Pang as a "seductress desperate for sex with him", it was not "so egregious" as to be an aggravating factor.

His admission to seven other charges had also saved the court time, resources and manpower, the judge said.

Lim, who is married with a young daughter, returned to his Tanjong Rhu condominium home after posting bail of $15,000 yesterday. He declined to comment when The Straits Times visited his house.

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