Metro scion Ong Jenn to be sentenced on July 12 on drug charges

Ong Jenn and his wife arriving at the State Courts on Thursday.
Ong Jenn and his wife arriving at the State Courts on Thursday.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - The prosecution has asked for Metro founder's grandson Ong Jenn, now 41, to be jailed for three years on Thursday (June 22) while his lawyer urged the court to jail him for between eight months and a year.

Ong pleaded guilty last month to two counts of attempting to be in possession of cannabis and a cannabis mixture between Oct 30 and 31, 2014.

He admitted to these offences following a three-day trial in which he was 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 these trafficking charges and reduced them to the ones he pleaded guilty to.

On Thursday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Ong Luan Tze highlighted in court the large amount of drugs involved in these cases - 385.1g of cannabis mixture and 92.68g of cannabis.

She added that evidence also showed Ong had no qualms about selling drugs to his friends.

 

She said: "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. Therefore, not only did the accused have no qualms about distributing the drugs, but he also had every intention to profit from it.

"The fact that the accused may have suffered from an insomnia disorder and an Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is also not an exceptional circumstance. The courts ought to be careful not to condone the use of illegal drugs for the alleged relief of a medical condition."

DPP Ong also told Judge Kaur that the weight of cannabis involved in this case is an important starting point for sentencing.

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 lighter sentence, Ong's lawyer, Senior Counsel (SC) Tan Chee Meng from WongPartnership, told the court that after the arrest on Oct 31, 2014, his client had sought help at Narcotics Anonymous Singapore on his own accord to address his drug habit.

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

SC Tan said: "By sheer effort, he has kept himself entirely drug-free and has since weaned himself completely off his addiction."

He also told the court on Thursday that Ong has undergone regular and random urine tests which have all tested negative for illicit substances.

SC Tan 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 a bail of $150,000.

He will be sentenced on July 12.

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.

Mohamad Ismail, on the other hand, was sentenced to 22 years in jail and given 18 strokes of the cane on Sept 16, 2015, after pleading guilty to three of seven drug-related charges.

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.