Tycoon Koh Wee Meng fined for putting up wall at home

The two-tier wall surrounding Koh Wee Meng's house that sits at the junction of Toh Crescent and Toh Avenue.
The two-tier wall surrounding Koh Wee Meng's house that sits at the junction of Toh Crescent and Toh Avenue.ST PHOTO: FELINE LIM

Permission not sought from URA to build two-tier wall, construction firm also fined

Real estate tycoon Koh Wee Meng was fined $12,000 yesterday after constructing a wall to fence off his Toh Crescent property without planning permission from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

Koh, 53, who is the director of 31 companies, including the Fragrance Group, Parc Sovereign Hotel Management and JK Assets, pleaded guilty to carrying out the development between October 2009 and April 2010 at his home near Upper Changi Road North.

He also admitted that he had authorised Emerald Construction and its director, Tan Soon Koi, 54, to build the two-tier wall, which is about 3m tall at its highest point.

Tan was fined $6,000 for authorising his firm to build the wall.

Emerald Construction was also fined $12,000 for carrying out the development without planning permission and building the wall, which had not been approved by the Commissioner of Building Control.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Soh Weiqi told the court yesterday that Koh bought the Toh Crescent land in August 2009. At 3,765 sq m, its area is about half the size of a football field. Some time that year, Koh instructed engineering firm Richard K. C. Lim and Partners to apply to the National Parks Board (NParks) for approval to build features such as drains on the land.

A drawing dated August 2009 that was submitted to NParks contained specifications for the first reinforced concrete retaining wall. Koh asked Emerald Construction to build the wall, which is up to 1.6m tall and 93m long. It was built between August and October 2009.

He then appointed and authorised architectural firm H.U.A.Y Architects to submit on his behalf an application to build a second wall. The application was sent to the URA on Nov 11, 2009.

From December 2009 to September 2010, H.U.A.Y Architects sent over several re-submissions to URA on how the wall should be built.

DPP Soh said: "On Oct 28, 2010, H.U.A.Y Architects made a re-submission, proposing a 1.4m fence wall with a 0.4m grille behind the first retaining wall. Koh was copied in this application."

URA approved this application only about a month later.

However, between October 2009 and April 2010, even before the approval was given, Koh instructed Tan and Emerald Construction to build the second retaining wall, measuring 1.32m tall and 93m long.

Koh's lawyer Jason Chan told District Judge Ong Chin Rhu yesterday that the wall is still standing and there was no issue about its safety.

For carrying out the development without planning permission to build it, Koh could have been fined up to $200,000.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 26, 2017, with the headline 'Tycoon fined for putting up wall at home'. Print Edition | Subscribe