Jail for Singaporean who gave bribe to unlawfully obtain Malaysian driving licence

SINGAPORE - A man's elaborate plan to own and drive two cars here hit a bump in the road when he incurred multiple parking penalties.

When the BMW and Suzuki Swift Sport were impounded by the Urban Redevelopment Authority, agencies including the Land Transport Authority learnt that both cars not only were bearing false registration plates from Malaysia, but were also actually cars that were deregistered in Singapore and exported to Malaysia.

They also found a Malaysian driving licence with Zhang Weida's name in the BMW.

Digging deeper, it emerged that the Singaporean had bribed a contact across the Causeway to obtain the genuine Malaysian driving licence. Zhang did not have a valid Singapore driving licence.

On Monday (Sept 16), the 35-year-old was sentenced to seven months and 22 weeks' jail on 30 counts in total of corruption, forgery and traffic-related offences.

He was also slapped with a $7,300 fine and disqualified from driving all classes of vehicles for three years after pleading guilty last month.

The court heard that Zhang had obtained the licence sometime in 2009 by giving a bribe of RM7,000 to a contact in Malaysia to benefit a government official there. The official was not named in court documents.

Zhang gave the money by transferring it from Singapore via Western Union. 

He claimed he was introduced to this unidentified middleman by a friend in Kuala Lumpur who gave him a number to call.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Stephanie Chew said: "The contact allegedly knew someone from Jabatan Pengangkutan Jalan Malaysia - the Road Transport Department of Malaysia.

"The accused understood this to mean that the unknown contact would bribe an unknown Malaysian government official to obtain the said driving licence without the accused having to take any driving test."

In May 2017, he went to Malaysia to buy a BMW and in April last year, he bought a Suzuki Swift Sport from a Malaysian car dealer.

Singaporeans and permanents residents of Singapore are not allowed to drive a foreign-registered vehicle into Singapore. But Zhang later drove both cars here.

He started incurring parking fines for both cars but did not pay them. The vehicles were impounded in May last year.

As a result of his action, a Malaysian motorist was denied entry into Singapore last September for traffic offences she did not commit.

This was because her car bore the genuine licence plate number unlawfully displayed on the Suzuki.

The woman, identified only as Ms Wong, had to lodge a police report, the court heard. It was not stated if she made the report here or in Malaysia.

The DPP said: "The accused had caused inconvenience and anxiety to... Ms Wong, as she had to prove her innocence to the relevant authorities for the offences committed by the accused who was in possession of the vehicle with the false licence plate."

Offenders convicted of corruption can be jailed for up to five years and fined up to $100,000.