Ex-HDB employee jailed and ordered to pay $24,800 for taking bribes 22 years ago

Soh Chor Huang was jailed for nine months and ordered to pay a penalty of $24,800.
Soh Chor Huang was jailed for nine months and ordered to pay a penalty of $24,800.PHOTO: ST GRAPHICS

SINGAPORE - The long arm of the law caught up with a former civil servant who took bribes amounting to $24,800 over 11 months from two men to be lenient in his supervision of carpark barriers installed at Housing Board carparks 22 years ago.

Soh Chor Huang, 65, pleaded guilty to five counts of corruptly receiving cash cheques of $2,400 each from Mr Chang Chan Nam and Mr Peck Chin Choon of Chang Choon Huat Construction (CCH) between March and July 1994 in return for being lenient in his supervision of HDB carpark barriers installation works carried out by CCH.

He was jailed for nine months and ordered to pay a penalty of $24,800 on Friday (April 7) by District Judge Ong Chi Rhu who took six other charges into consideration.

CCH was incorporated in 1993 by Mr Chang, Mr Peck and Soh's brother-in-law Goh Teck Seng.

Some time in late 1993, CCH began work on a project with the HDB to erect barriers to existing parapets of multi-storey carparks. Soh was assigned as the clerk-of-works to this project.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Jasmin Kaur said that Soh had made a plan with Mr Chang and Mr Peck to set up CCH and for him to receive a bribe by way of a "monthly salary". In return, he would be be lenient in his supervision of the works done by CCH workers.

As he was a government servant, Soh did not want to register his name in the company. As such, he asked Mr Goh to register his (Mr Goh's) name in the company. Mr Goh agreed, but did not get involved in the company in any other way.

Between January and November 1994, directors' salaries were paid to Mr Chang, Mr Peck and Mr Goh. Twenty per cent of the salaries were credited into their respective Central Provident Fund (CPF) accounts, and the remaining paid in cash or cheque.

For Mr Goh's salary, 20 per cent was credited into his CPF account, and the remaining 80 per cent went to Soh.

DPP Jasmin said Soh was supposed to supervise and ensure all the works followed HDB guidelines.

But on a few occasions, Soh noticed that CCH did not use HDB-approved materials for installing some of the barriers, and neither did CCH get permission from HDB to use other materials. He did not report this to HDB and allowed the works to carry on.

Soh's lawyer Kelvin Lim said in mitigation that his client, who has two children, has been in poor health for the last 10 years, and is on regular medication to control his medical conditions.

"Perhaps the greatest pain he has to endure is the fact that he had brought shame to his family. He had let them down and it is a personal tragedy for him," he said.

Soh could have been fined up to $100,000 and/or jailed for up to five years on each charge.