Former national paddler Li Hu's mother gets 6 weeks' jail for offering bribe to STTA official

Li Hu's mother Su Fenggxian was convicted on Jan 2 of offering a bribe to an official, in exchange for leniency towards her son in disciplinary proceedings. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - There is public interest in protecting the integrity of the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) which oversees one of the core sports here, said a judge in sentencing the mother of a former national paddler to jail for bribery.

When Chinese national Su Fengxian, 56, learnt that her son was facing disciplinary action, she tried to help him by offering a bribe of €2,000 ($3,200) to an STTA director who rejected the bribe.

On Jan 2, District Judge Chay Yuen Fatt found Su guilty following a three-day trial.

In sentencing her to six weeks' jail on Tuesday (Jan 30), Judge Chay said: "This case shows STTA is incorruptible."

Su's son, Li Hu, was a national player and one-time world junior singles champion.

In October 2016, the 29-year-old was hauled before an STTA disciplinary committee for violating house rules in allowing a female friend to spend a night at the STTA hostel in Toa Payoh.

During the trial last year, Deputy Public Prosecutor Jasmin Kaur told the court that while Su was in China, she received a call from Mr Li on Oct 14, 2016.

After he told her about the disciplinary matter, Su called STTA's technical director Loy Soo Han to plead for leniency on her son's behalf. However, her pleas failed to move Mr Loy and Mr Li handed in his resignation letter to STTA.

Days later on Oct 17, Su arrived in Singapore at around 7am and went to STTA to meet Mr Loy to again plead for leniency. When he still stood firm, she offered him an envelope filled with the cash.

On Tuesday, DPP Kaur urged Judge Chay to sentence Su to at least four months' jail.

She said Su's actions were premeditated, adding: "The accused... offered the bribe to Loy because it was a solution that was common-placed in her culture. A strong deterrent message must be sent out that such 'solutions' have no place in our country, and anyone who resorts to bribery will be dealt with severely."

Counsel Alfred Dodwell, representing Su, had asked the court to sentence his client to a fine of not more than $2,000.

He said: "Su did not embark on a deliberate scheme with her own personal gain in mind. There was no hint of conspiracy and no web of corruption to speak of... When Su was fraught with emotions, she had inadvertently given the corrupt gratification to Loy."

Mr Dodwell told the court that his client intends to appeal against her conviction and sentence. Su was offered bail of $15,000 pending this appeal.

For offering the bribe, she could have been jailed for up to five years and fined up to $100,000.

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