Key witness depressed and 'highly vulnerable'

THE woman at the centre of a high-profile sex-for-contracts case is suffering from clinical depression, the prosecution said yesterday.

In applying for a gag order on her identity, the prosecution quoted medical reports which said that "her mental state is highly vulnerable and the doctor has concerns about possible self-harm/suicide if she were further stressed".

Deputy public prosecutor Tan Ken Hwee said that IT sales executive Cecilia Sue Siew Nang, 36, had seen two psychiatrists - Dr Ken Ung, who is in private practice, and Dr Jerome Goh, of the Institute of Mental Health - over her depressive episodes.

Further media coverage, he said, would be "detrimental to her well-being", and the court should prevent her name and pictures from being splashed in media reports about the trial.

The DPP's application, however, was roundly objected to by defence lawyer Tan Chee Meng. He argued that granting anonymity to a "critical principal witness" would be against the principle of open justice.

The request, said the senior counsel, was an unusual one, which he had not seen in all his years at the Bar, and would set an undesirable precedent.

It would also be unfair if former Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) chief Ng Boon Gay were eventually to be acquitted, as his name would not be cleared in the court of public opinion if people did not know he was cleared of the already widely publicised charges relating to Ms Sue.

For Ng to be vindicated of the allegations, she would also have to turn up in court to be cross-examined, he said.

District Judge Siva Shanmugam rejected the gag order application, saying he was not convinced that it was in the interest of justice, or public safety and security as the DPP had suggested.

But the judge added that the court would try to accommodate Ms Sue when she takes the stand, to help her cope with the stress.

Ng, 46, faces four counts of obtaining oral sex from Ms Sue, in exchange for helping her companies in their bids for contracts with CNB. He was in court yesterday with his wife, Madam Yap Yen Yen, and other relatives.

Yesterday, on day one of Ng's corruption trial, it emerged that Ms Sue had given a statement to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) in which she said that she only had a business relationship with Ng.

The statement, however, had been recorded after 81/2 hours of questioning, between 6.40pm and 3.15am, said SC Tan. He added that it also came just one day after she told CPIB investigators that she was "so much in love" with Ng that she was willing to leave her husband of 13 years for him.

These two statements, among nine given to the CPIB, had been full of contradictions, said SC Tan. But the DPP objected to him using the statements as they had not been admitted as evidence in court. SC Tan then ripped out the pages in his written submissions, saying: "You don't have to ask me to do it, I will rip it out."

Portraying Ms Sue as Ng's girlfriend, he questioned why Ng was being charged with corruption for only four of their trysts when he had had an "intimate" relationship with her since 2009.

During that time, Ms Sue had given birth to a son in 2010. She had also worked at three technology companies, Sun Microsystems, Hitachi Data Systems, and Oracle Corporation Singapore. Ms Sue had been in charge of sales of IT products and services to government agencies at all three firms.

When the prosecution's first witness, Oracle managing director Leslie Ong Yew San, 52, took the stand yesterday, he told the court that his company had hired Ms Sue last November because of her "successful track record" in the previous companies she worked for. She was also said to have good relations with Ministry of Home Affairs personnel.

As an account manager of the firm's applications business, Ms Sue primarily handled the Home Affairs account. As such, the CNB, which comes under the ministry, was one of her portfolios.

Under cross-examination, Mr Ong also revealed that 50 per cent of Ms Sue's pay was commission.

About a month after Ng was charged on June12, and after she was revealed as the woman behind the scandal, Ms Sue had left the company, said Mr Ong.

But her departure had been related to her performance, and was not directly related to the case, he said. It turned out she had not met her sales targets.

yuenc@sph.com.sg