DPP asks for 3 years' jail for Metro scion

Ong Jenn, seen here with his wife, has pleaded guilty to attempting to be in possession of cannabis and a cannabis mixture. He is now out on bail and will be sentenced on July 12.
Ong Jenn, seen here with his wife, has pleaded guilty to attempting to be in possession of cannabis and a cannabis mixture. He is now out on bail and will be sentenced on July 12.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

She says use of illegal drugs for claimed relief of medical condition should not be condoned

The use of illegal drugs for claimed relief of a medical condition should not be condoned, argued the prosecution in the drug case against Ong Jenn, the Metro founder's grandson.

Ong, 41, pleaded guilty on May 12 to two counts of attempting to be in possession of cannabis and a cannabis mixture between Oct 30 and 31, 2014.

During a three-day trial in February, Ong testified that he suffered from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and insomnia. He also said the drug helped him focus and sleep better at night.

Yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Ong Luan Tze highlighted the large amount of drugs involved in these cases - 385.1g of cannabis mixture and 92.68g of cannabis - and evidence that Ong had no qualms selling drugs to his friends.

His medical condition should not be an exception, she said, in arguing for Ong to be jailed for three years.

"The courts ought to be careful not to condone the use of illegal drugs for the alleged relief of a medical condition," said DPP Ong.

Ong, who will be sentenced on July 12, was originally accused of two counts of engaging in a conspiracy with a convicted drug offender, Mohamad Ismail Abdul Majid, 45, to traffic the drug.

District Judge Jasvender Kaur did not find Ong guilty of the trafficking charges at the end of the trial. Ong then pleaded guilty to reduced charges.

DPP Ong said evidence showed Ong had sought to profit from selling drugs."The accused admitted that he had agreed to pass one Gwen Toh 100g of cannabis at a price of $1,100. Given the evidence that the accused paid his supplier (Mohamad Ismail) a sum of $1,000 for 100g of cannabis, this would work out to a profit of $100."

DPP Ong also told Judge Kaur the weight of cannabis involved in this case is an important consideration.

She said: "The main concern about drug-related offences is the amount of harm which can be caused. Logically speaking, the quantity of drugs found in one's possession must have a direct correlation with the magnitude of harm that can be potentially occasioned."

Pleading for a sentence of between eight months and a year, Ong's lawyer, Senior Counsel Tan Chee Meng from WongPartnership, told the court that after his arrest on Oct 31, 2014, his client had sought help at Narcotics Anonymous Singapore of his own accord to address his drug habit.

Ong also attended rehabilitative sessions with consultant psychiatrist Munidasa Winslow, who specialises in treating addictions.

SC Tan said Ong has undergone regular and random urine tests. They have all tested negative for illicit substances.

He added: "To this end, he has been volunteering regularly at a drug addict support group to share his experiences and to encourage other drug abusers to follow his example, turn over a new leaf and do their best to live a drug-free life."

Ong, who is the grandson of Metro founder Ong Tjoe Kim and son of its former group managing director Jopie Ong, is now out on bail of $150,000. He still has six other drug-related charges against him.

They include allegedly being in possession for the purpose of trafficking 75.32g of cannabis and 284.7g of a cannabis mixture in his Bishopsgate home near Grange Road on Oct 31, 2014. The pre-trial conference for these six pending cases will be held at a later date.

For each count of attempting to be in possession of the cannabis and cannabis mixture, Ong can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined up to $20,000.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2017, with the headline 'DPP asks for 3 years' jail for Metro scion'. Print Edition | Subscribe