Business leader assisting CPIB in Chinatown probe

The executive director of the Chinatown Business Association (CBA) is assisting in investigations by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau - allegedly over the construction of the Chinatown Visitor Centre.

Mr James Ong, 48, is said to have gone to the anti-graft agency around two weeks ago for questioning.

Its investigators have also reportedly made two visits to the CBA office to take away files and a computer.

The centre was officially opened in January last year at Kreta Ayer Square.

CBA chairman Bernard Leong confirmed to The Straits Times yesterday that Mr Ong is "currently assisting the CPIB" in investigations, but he said he was neither aware of the subject matter nor the details of the investigation.

According to Lianhe Zaobao, Mr Leong also said Mr Ong continues to report to work.

Mr Leong told The Straits Times that the CBA's executive committee will be meeting today to discuss this matter.

"I will be seeking the exco's approval to appoint our honorary legal adviser to advise us on any further course of action, if any," he said.

The bureau declined to comment on whether Mr Ong was involved in its investigations.

A spokesman said: "Due to the nature of our work, we will not confirm or deny whether any individual or entity is being investigated for corrupt practices."

The Chinatown Visitor Centre took two years to come to fruition and was built on the site of an old trishaw park.

In October 2011, Mr Ong told The Straits Times that the idea for it came about after requests from tourists and locals wanting information about the attractions in Chinatown.

He was quoted as saying that he wanted it to be a "centre of vibrancy", with regular exhibitions and events taking place.

At that time, the CBA had declined to say how much the centre cost.

Yesterday, Mr Leong told The Straits Times that the centre is "the pride and joy of the CBA" and will continue operations as usual.

brynasim@sph.com.sg

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