O-level cheating trial: Lawyer says tutor 'threatened, physically intimidated' by police officers

Fiona Poh, a tutor from Zeus Education Centre in Tampines, is one of three alleged accomplices who aided six Chinese national students taking their O-level examinations in 2016.
Fiona Poh, a tutor from Zeus Education Centre in Tampines, is one of three alleged accomplices who aided six Chinese national students taking their O-level examinations in 2016.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - While private tutor Fiona Poh Min was being investigated for cheating, she was "threatened and physically intimidated" by police officers, said her lawyer. 

As a result, she "involuntarily" gave her statement to police investigation officer (IO) Eddie Ho after she was arrested, said lawyer Nicolas Tang on Tuesday (Aug 14).

This was refuted by the officer, who said that he was not aware of the claims.

Fiona Poh, 31, a tutor from Zeus Education Centre in Tampines, is one of three alleged accomplices who aided six Chinese national students, aged between 17 and 20, taking their O-level examinations in 2016.

She faces 27 cheating charges and one charge of instigating Chinese national student Chen Yi to leave Singapore to avoid being investigated by police.

Her two alleged accomplices are the centre's principal Poh Yuan Nie, 52, who is also Fiona Poh's aunt, and Chinese national Feng Riwen, 26. They each face 27 cheating charges.

Another tutor from the centre, Singaporean Tan Jia Yan, 32, admitted in April that she sat for the exam as a private candidate in order to provide a live feed to her alleged accomplices of the paper the other students were sitting for.

She did this by using the Facetime app on a camera phone stuck to her chest.

 
 
 

Tan is currently out on bail of $20,000.

Meanwhile, the students smuggled concealed mobile phones which were connected to Bluetooth devices they wore under their clothes, into the exam halls. They also wore skin-coloured in-ear earphones.

Using the images beamed to them from Tan, Fiona Poh and Feng allegedly worked out the answers and, together with the principal, read out the answers to the students wearing the earphones.

This went on for five days from Oct 19, until one of the students, Chen Yi, was caught by an invigilator on Oct 24 at Tampines Secondary School.

On Tuesday, defence lawyer Tang said his client had been threatened by some of the police officers who came in contact with her after she was arrested.

When asked whether he was aware of the claims made by Fiona Poh, IO Ho said he was not. 

Some of these threats, said Mr Tang, included officers telling her to cooperate during questioning so that she would not get hit.  The IO refuted the possibility of this claim. 

In another instance, she was also told that if she continued to stay silent, "an accident might happen" to her aunt during investigations, added the lawyer.

In response, IO Ho said he was unaware of any of the claims, as he was not present during those times.

When Mr Tang asked the IO if he was aware that Fiona Poh had "suffered from threats, inducements or promises prior to making her statement", the IO said he was not.

Mr Tang then suggested that as a result, Fiona Poh had "involuntarily" given him her statement, to which the IO rejected by saying he disagreed.

The trial resumes on Wednesday.