SINGAPORE - The High Court on Friday dismissed an appeal by prosecutors seeking a jail term of three to four months for former National Parks Board (NParks) officer Bernard Lim Yong Soon, who was fined $5,000 for lying to auditors about his relationship with a bicycle firm director.
Justice Tay Yong Kwang also dismissed Lim's appeal against his conviction.
Lim, a former assistant director of NParks, was found guilty of giving false information to public servant after a district court trial in May. He was handed the maximum fine a month later. He was cleared of a second charge of instigating the other man to lie. The prosecution has dropped its appeal against the acquittal.
Lim had tipped off the owner of bicycle retailer Bikehop about an upcoming NParks tender for foldable bikes. Bikehop entered a bid to sell 26 Brompton bikes to NParks in January 2012. It was the sole bidder. In June 2012, the deal came under intense public scrutiny over the $2,200 price of each bicycle. When questioned by internal auditors about his relationship with Bikehop boss Lawrence Lim, Lim lied that they met each other for the first time only in March 2012.
On Friday, Lim's lawyer Lawrence Ang argued that Lim's conviction was "unsafe" as there were procedural lapses in the investigations, which caused him to suffer discrimination. On the other hand, Deputy Public Prosecutor Andre Jumabhoy argued that a deterrent jail term was warranted for Lim, given the public disquiet that arose.
But Justice Tay rejected this argument, saying that jail cannot be justified for someone who did not do anything to deserve it just because it caused a public outcry. "You have to look at the facts, not how much publicity is generated," he said.
The judge said he saw no need to disturb the district judge's decision in any way and dismissed the appeals of both sides.