Star witness accused of lying

DEFENCE lawyers accused Ms Cecilia Sue - star witness at the trial of former Central Narcotics Bureau chief Ng Boon Gay - of lying yesterday, and wanted to know whether she had lied to graft officers or was lying in court.

"Are you aware that perjury in court may open you to criminal prosecution?" asked Senior Counsel Tan Chee Meng at the start of yesterday's proceedings.

Without flinching, Ms Sue replied: "That's absolutely sure, so I will not do that."

Since taking the witness stand on Wednesday, Ms Sue has told the court that she did not have a relationship with Ng and was forced to have oral sex with him on four occasions in return for him showing her employers favour in tender bids.

The defence has pointed out that this is the opposite of what she had told Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) officers at numerous interviews conducted with her. But Ms Sue has steadfastly maintained what what she told the CPIB was untrue.

One of the statements, recorded on Jan10 this year, had Ms Sue saying that she loved Ng so much she would leave her husband to marry him. On hearing the line yesterday, Ms Sue said she had no idea how it had ended up in her statement, insisting that she had never said it.

"No, no, it didn't come from me, I seriously do not know how this sentence was being formed."

Mr Tan said there were only two scenarios to explain how the line got into the statement: either she was lying to CPIB, or she was saying the CPIB officers had "put words in (her) mouth".

Ms Sue asked why it could not be a third scenario, "whereby it's not the truth, and I try to make it as complete as possible".

She tried to explain to the court what she meant by this, saying that she had tried to give testimony to the CPIB in a way that would not implicate Ng because she was so scared of him.

"At that point in time, I'm really fearful of the accused. (He is) so well connected... and has been telling me how he does raids and how he schemes his plans and all that," she said.

"At that time I seriously do not know whether he is connected with CPIB as well, so I needed to close it off and close it off in a nice way.

"I was really afraid... that if I said something wrong or whatever, he will get someone to stash drugs in my bag or in my car and I will end up in trouble. So I just had this fear."

She said that even though there were occasions she rejected his attempts to meet her, she went along to other meetings out of the same fear.

"If I offended him, I could have other problems to face," she said. "How about my job, my work, he can jeopardise my deals.

"I'm just a nobody, I'm not high-ranking or whatever. I just live my life as it is, to bring up my child, that's about it."

At one point, Ms Sue broke down and said: "It's okay for me to die, really. I don't even bother, but I got to think of my family."

She added that she was still fearful of Ng, but had told herself she had to be strong in court.

"Probably he has done it with other women... I'm telling myself I've got to be strong today because, I mean, I don't want another victim," she said. "If there is really a need (for there) to be a victim, let it just be me."

This was one of many occasions which saw Ms Sue locking horns with Mr Tan yesterday.

Objecting to Mr Tan reading out her CPIB statements even though she had vehemently disavowed them, she said: "I have read (the statement) and you can ask your questions. I don't think there is a need to read it out."

She also appealed to the bench for help. "Your honour, before defence counsel proceeds with the question, may I request for (him) to treat me with respect and not to pose too many insulting and embarrassing questions? I will appreciate that."

The day was marked by many tetchy exchanges, with many questions from Mr Tan having to be repeated and rephrased multiple times. One exchange, which involved Mr Tan asking Ms Sue whether she thought Ng had any influence over the outcome of the tender, lasted 30 minutes without Ms Sue answering the question.

At one point, Mr Tan said: "Your answer could simply be 'yes', Ms Sue...I know I used the word initiated, but I know you're intelligent enough to know what I mean."

To this she retorted: "Sorry, you're a lawyer, I'm just a sales representative, I don't think I'm as intelligent as you."

yuenc@sph.com.sg