Technician instigates colleague to pour water on faulty X-ray machine in attempt to cheat DSTA of $23,500

SINGAPORE - A technical support officer asked his colleague to pour water on a faulty X-ray machine he had been tasked to repair.

Chin Wei Rong wanted to make the damage appear as if it had been the result of a user fault. This would mean the machine at the Maju military camp would not have to be fixed within 72 hours, as stipulated in the contract with the company Chin worked for, O'Connor's.

In doing so, he tried to cheat and induce a representative of the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) into handing over $23,500 to O'Connor's.

On Monday (Dec 4), Chin, 45, was fined $10,000 by District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim. A second charge of attempted mischief was taken into consideration during sentencing.

O'Connor's is a company contracted by DSTA to maintain X-ray machines at various Singapore Armed Forces camps around Singapore.

Chin and Mr Ng Sai Meng, a technical support engineer, went to Maju Camp to examine the X-ray machine on Aug 19, 2016. Chin believed that a part of the machine, known as the combo box, was faulty.

When Chin found a bottle of water lodged inside the machine, he handed it to Mr Ng and asked him to pour the water on the machine. Mr Ng did so.

That evening, Chin e-mailed DSTA's system manager Goh Teck Lin, enclosing a service report and a quotation of $23,500. This was to be paid to O'Connor's as replacement fees for the damaged components of the machine.

Chin based the quote on the cost of replacing a combo box.

Three days later, he provided an official incident report to Mr Goh, falsely stating that the machine damage had been caused by water.

On Aug 24, Mr Goh was informed by Maju Camp personnel that the machine appeared to be working.

He asked Chin to meet him at the camp later that day to pinpoint the machine fault.

During the meeting, Chin told Mr Goh that the combo box was faulty, but Mr Goh did not see any burnt components.

Mr Goh then viewed the closed-circuit television footage. It showed that Chin did not remove the combo box during his examination of the machine.

Mr Goh questioned Chin on the thoroughness of his examination, and requested a meeting between the management of O'Connor's and DSTA.

Subsequently, a diagnosis revealed that it was the motherboard, and not the combo box, that had been damaged.

Chin then told Mr Goh that the replacement fees would be only $2,800.

When informed of the new quotation, Maju Camp personnel were perplexed by the disparity between the two quotations and decided to conduct an internal investigation.

Maju Camp reviewed the CCTV footage in detail and found out what Chin and Mr Ng had done.

A police report was made.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Charis Low sought a fine of $8,000, taking into consideration that Chin did not commit the offence for personal gain.

Mr Ng has been given a stern warning.

The maximum penalty for attempted cheating is 18 months' jail and a fine.