SINGAPORE - A travel company operations manager, who sent SMS messages to a prosecution witness with the intention to influence her to give a specific testimony in court, was fined $6,000 on Monday (Nov 14).
Ng Ang Heng, 59, employed by Sin U Lian Travel & Coach, had admitted to trying to pervert the course of justice during the trial of his colleague, Xu Yajie, at the State Courts by sending text messages, through another colleague Toh Lee Hong, to Ms Xu Xiaona, to give a specific testimony on April 28 last year.
The court heard that driver Kwan Kwok Hung was caught driving without a valid bus driver's vocational licence along an expressway on Jan 16, 2014.
Land Transport Authority investigations showed that it was Sin U Lian's human resource head Yajie, who interviewed and hired the driver without the vocational licence. Charges were brought against her.
On the day of Yajie's trial on April 28, 2015, Ng met Xiaona in court and realised for the first time that she was a witness.
Worried about the testimony that Xiaona would give, Ng wanted to tell her that it was him who made the final decision to hire the driver, not Yajie nor Xiaona.
Just before noon, Ng sent a series of SMS messages in Chinese to Ms Toh, an accounts executive of the company, and asked her to forward them to Xiaona.
The text messages informed Xiaona to say that Ng, and no one else, was in charge of hiring and paying workers.
Xiaona did not agree with the content of the text messages and did not testify accordingly.
Yajie was later acquitted after the trial.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Jasmin Kaur had sought a jail sentence of six to eight weeks to be imposed. She said Ng's action in sending direct text messages to influence the testimony that the witness was about to give showed a complete disregard for the court's jurisdiction, and the custodial threshold was crossed in this case.
But District Judge Kessler Soh felt that a high fine was sufficient.
He said Ng personally believed what he was telling the witness was the truth. There was no threat or coercion, he said. Ng did not do anything for his own benefit and neither did he succeed in getting the witness to change her testimony.
Ng, represented by Mr S.K. Kumar, could have been jailed for up to 31/2 years and/or fined.