Health and safety specialist jailed 4 weeks for taking bribes

Cheow Hock Mun took a bribe in return for being lenient in supervising work done by a subcontractor at a plant.
Cheow Hock Mun took a bribe in return for being lenient in supervising work done by a subcontractor at a plant.

A 49-year-old man was sentenced to four weeks' jail yesterday for accepting $6,000 in bribes while he was working as the health, environment and safety specialist with Chevron Singapore at its lube oil blending plant.

Cheow Hock Mun was also ordered to pay a penalty sum of $6,000, in default of which he will have to serve 20 days' jail.

The permanent resident had pleaded guilty on Oct 9 to two counts of receiving a bribe in return for being lenient in supervising work done by the subcontractor, LGC Engineering and Contractors (LGC), at the plant. Another similar charge was taken into consideration during sentencing by District Judge Edgar Foo.

Court documents stated that Cheow was in charge of all safety and security matters at the plant in Jalan Buroh. He also oversaw the issuing of permits and training of workers at the plant.

Cheow accepted the money from Lim Gim Chuan, managing director of LGC, on three occasions between April and July 2015.

Lim was aware that Cheow was the overall in charge of safety at the plant, and that he had the authority to make things difficult by not approving the permits for his workers or by finding faults in their safety aspects. This would eventually cause delays and financial losses for Lim's company.

Court documents said that some time in April 2015, Lim asked to meet Cheow at the canteen of the plant, where he offered Cheow $2,000 and, in Hokkien, asked for "a helping hand".

Cheow understood that Lim meant for him to ensure a "smooth operation" of his company's works at the oil plant. Cheow later took $2,000 from Lim.

Lim gave him a similar amount on two other occasions.

Cheow subsequently approved permits and the commencement of work by Lim's company without being difficult.

He also helped to speed up the endorsement of documents for Lim's company, and conducted additional training for his workers.

Lim was jailed for 10 weeks in June for various corruption offences, including his involvement in this case.

Yesterday, District Judge Foo granted Cheow's request to defer his jail term to next Monday as he is currently recovering from an eye operation.

For each offence of corruption, Cheow could have been jailed for up to five years, or fined up to $100,000, or both.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 28, 2020, with the headline 'Health and safety specialist jailed 4 weeks for taking bribes'. Print Edition | Subscribe