SINGAPORE - When drug-related paraphernalia were found on him, the Singaporean doctor at the heart of the HIV Registry data leak told narcotics officers the syringe in his bag was for injecting insulin into his patients, the court heard on Friday (May 31).
Ler Teck Siang, who turns 38 this year, is alleged to have used his medical skills to provide "slamming services" to drug abusers to supplement his income last year.
The term refers to the administering of illegal drugs via injection, and Ler is alleged to have done so for Sim Eng Chee on Feb 26, 2018 at a room in the Swissotel The Stamford hotel.
Ler is on trial for two drug-related charges for administering methamphetamine to Sim on Feb 26, and for possessing utensils intended for drug use a few days later.
On March 2, 2018, Ler and Sim were arrested by the authorities at the Conrad Centennial Singapore hotel after hotel staff there found drugs and drug-related items in Sim's room, said prosecutors.
Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) officers at the scene found a syringe, two straws and an empty bottle on Ler, who prosecutors said was with Sim. Officers testified on Friday that Ler told them he used the syringe to "inject insulin" for his patients.
The officers found Ler to be "uncooperative", as he not only doubted whether they had the right to search but also tried to prevent them from doing so, citing his "civil rights" initially, the court heard.
It was only after officers found drugs on Sim that they arrested Ler and proceeded to search his bag, said the officers.
But Ler was "evasive" on the use of the items found in the bag, and he said the straws were for "no particular use" and the bottle was "for nothing", an officer told the court.
Prosecutors said all four items were later found to have traces of methamphetamine.
Ler, who is representing himself, told the court that he "was not entirely forthcoming with his answers" because he knew there was to be another round of official statement taking.
He is currently serving a two-year sentence for helping his HIV-positive American partner, Mikhy Farrera-Brochez, deceive the authorities into issuing a pass for him to work here.
Ler was charged for these offences in June 2016, and was convicted in September last year.
He is also facing a separate charge under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) for failing to take reasonable care to retain possession of the information relating to the HIV Registry.
Farrera-Brochez leaked the names, addresses, contact details and medical information of 14,200 HIV-positive people here online, and he is said to have gained access to this information through Ler, who was head of the National Public Health Unit between March 2012 and May 2013.
Ler also faces another charge of failing to provide a urine specimen to a narcotics officer on March 2, 2018.
This charge as well as the one under the OSA have been stood down for now.
The trial for Ler's two drug-related charges will resume in July.
If found guilty of administering methamphetamine to Sim, Ler could be jailed for up to 20 years and given 15 strokes of the cane. The maximum punishment for the possession of utensils intended for drug use is three years' jail and a fine of $10,000.