A super-fit man was jailed for two months yesterday for his role in a scam in which he helped operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen) to pass their Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) - and pocket a cash award on their behalf for being "one of the best".
Kho Puay Meng, 38, pleaded guilty to one charge of conspiring to cheat and is out on $25,000 bail, pending an appeal against his sentence.
A district court heard how around 70 NSmen were approached by, or went to approach, the scam's alleged ringleader Lim Chun Chyi, 35 - an NSman himself - for help in completing the IPPT.
The tests at the time involved pull-ups, sit-ups and a 2.4km run and those who fail faced being sent for remedial fitness training.
Lim allegedly collected their identity cards and booked IPPT slots for them online before doing the tests himself - or getting someone else, such as Kho, to do them.
After passing with flying colours, they would then receive a cash incentive - of up to $400 for the "gold award" - from the Ministry of Defence (Mindef), while the "client" would be handed back his identity card and results slip.
In early November 2014, NSman Tan Yi Li, 27, got a call from Lim, who offered to complete his IPPT on his behalf, in exchange for the payout disbursed by Mindef. Tan agreed.
Lim then called Kho and asked him to take the IPPT in Tan's name, in return for half of the payout for an award.
Kho agreed and on Nov 22, Lim met Kho at the entrance of Khatib Camp and passed him Tan's identity card.
Kho completed the IPPT in Tan's name and got the gold award, then split the $400 incentive with Lim.
However, on Dec 6, a Certis Cisco fitness trainer on duty at the IPPT centre in Khatib Camp saw Lim and recognised him from before.
He searched Lim's IPPT records and his belongings, and found out that he was taking the IPPT on behalf of other NSmen.
The Singapore Armed Forces Military Police Command conducted an investigation before referring the case to the police in April last year.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Ng Jean Ting asked for two months' jail, noting that "the scheme undermined the national service regime and its associated public policy objectives".
"The conspiracy was hatched pursuant to motivation of the reservist personnel to evade an essential aspect of their national service obligations, viz the IPPT test, and on the part of the accused persons, a desire for personal financial gain."
Defence lawyer Ashwin Ganapathy, meanwhile, asked for not more than four weeks' jail, claiming that Kho was a "mere pawn in the entire scheme".
The lawyer added that Kho's "main motivation for committing the offence was because he genuinely wanted to help his fellow NSman who was unable to clear his IPPT".
He only agreed to take part in the scheme after repeated requests by Lim, the lawyer added.
Kho has paid Mindef back the $400 that he cheated it of, even though he pocketed only $200 of the payout.
The maximum punishment for cheating and thereby dishonestly inducing a delivery of property is 10 years' jail and a fine.
The cases against Lim and the rest of the NSmen involved in the scheme are pending. Both Mindef and HomeTeam NSmen are believed to be involved.