SINGAPORE - A secondary school teacher who made two counterfeit $100 notes and used them to pay for massage services from a woman he met at Orchard Towers, began his three-year jail term on Monday (June 25) after losing his appeal.
Daniel Wong Mun Meng, 44, failed to persuade a High Court judge that he had made the notes as a teaching tool to "excite and engage" his students on the topic of currency exchange.
Wong's contention that he also wanted to use the fake notes as props for the school's Maths Day - because they depicted youth from uniformed groups and was in line with the event's SG50 theme - was also rejected.
In dismissing Wong's appeal against conviction for counterfeiting the money and using the fake notes as genuine currency , Justice Aedit Abdullah said the reasons Wong gave for creating the notes beggared belief.
In late July 2015, Wong produced the two fake notes by photocopying a genuine note using his home printer.
On the night of Aug 3, 2015, he drove to Orchard Towers, where he met a Vietnamese woman and offered to pay her $200 for "services".
He paid Ms Nguyen Nhu Trang with the fake notes before driving her to Fragrance Hotel in Balestier Road. They spent about an hour there.
He testified in court that she gave him a full body massage and then had sex with him. But Ms Trang told the court that no sex was involved.
The case came to light after Ms Trang tried to use one of the fake notes at a supermarket and was caught by an alert cashier.
Police officers arrested Wong at Bukit Batok Secondary School on Aug 20, 2015. He was suspended from teaching his duties in December the same year.
Wong was found guilty after a 12-day trial and sentenced to three years' jail in November last year. He had been out on bail pending appeal.
On Monday (June 25), his lawyer, Ms Melanie Ho, argued that he should be cleared of the charges. She pointed to the scheme of work for Wong's class to establish that he did intend to deal with currency exchange as a topic.
But Justice Aedit questioned whether this really substantiated Wong's reason for counterfeiting the notes or provided an excuse for him.
"Do teachers generally create counterfeit notes to fulfil the scheme of work?" asked the judge, adding that Monopoly money or other currency could be used.
Ms Ho also argued that a three-year jail term was too harsh for Wong, who was trained as an electrical engineer. She said that his infidelity has taken a toll on his marriage.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Kenneth Chin argued that Wong's defence was an afterthought, pointing out that he failed to mention any intention to use the fake notes for class or for Maths Day when questioned by the police.