Ex-principal loses appeal, starts jail term for lying about affair with vendor

Former River Valley High principal Koh Yong Chiah lied about an extramarital affair with a vendor to whom he had awarded millions of dollars in school contracts.
Former River Valley High principal Koh Yong Chiah lied about an extramarital affair with a vendor to whom he had awarded millions of dollars in school contracts.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Former River Valley High School (RVHS) principal Koh Yong Chiah, 61, who lied about an extramarital affair with a vendor to whom he awarded millions of dollars in school contracts, started serving his four-week jail term on Friday (Nov 18) after losing his appeal against sentence.

A High Court panel of three judges found that the case justifies a custodial term as "appreciable harm" was caused by Koh's offence even though there is no finding of actual corruption or misuse of public funds.

"By concealing his affair with Ivy, a school vendor, and passively maintaining the falsehood, the appellant was allowed to undermine the integrity of the procurement process and confidence in the public service, especially since the conflict of interest went undetected for a long period of time,"Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin said, delivering the judgment.

The court, which also comprised Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and Judicial Commissioner See Kee Oon, noted that Koh did not retract his false statement, in effect continuously asserting the falsehood.

Koh had admitted giving false information to Ms Chia Ban Tin, an officer from the Ministry of Education (MOE) on Nov 24, 2005, that he was not having an affair with the vendor, Ms Ivy Loke Wai Lin.

Koh was then principal of Jurong Junior College (JJC). He later became head of RVHS in 2009.

Koh and Ms Loke, now 55, met in 2000 while he was the principal of The Chinese High School (CHS). Their first sexual encounter was during a CHS community service trip to Lijiang, China, in 2001. Both were married.

Between May and November 2005, in his capacity as the final approving authority for contracts at JJC, Koh awarded six contracts worth $162,491 to Ms Loke's firm, Education Architects 21 (EA 21).

He did not disclose the nature of his relationship with Ms Loke to the quotation approval panel.

Between 2005 and 2012, he approved $3.4 million worth of contracts to EA 21 and EI, another of Ms Loke's firms.

When he was queried by Ms Chia about an anonymous complaint of misconduct, Koh denied the affair.

Koh was dismissed from the public service with effect from Sept 14.