'We were just buyer and seller' when it came to drugs

Ong Jenn arriving at the State Courts yesterday with his wife. He is on trial for two counts of engaging in a conspiracy with Mohamad Ismail to traffic cannabis.
Ong Jenn arriving at the State Courts yesterday with his wife. He is on trial for two counts of engaging in a conspiracy with Mohamad Ismail to traffic cannabis.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Drug trafficker testifies at trial of Metro founder's grandson on nature of relationship

A convicted drug trafficker had said that Ong Jenn, the grandson of Metro's founder, was his "good friend" and they had known each other for a few years.

But on the second day of Ong's drug trafficking trial, Mohamad Ismail Abdul Majid, 45, told the court yesterday that when it came to narcotics, their relationship was solely that of a buyer and a seller.

Ong is now on trial for two counts of engaging in a conspiracy with Mohamad Ismail to traffic cannabis. Six other drug-related charges have been stood down.

Yesterday, Mohamad Ismail, who is now serving his jail sentence for drug-related offences, told the court that he called Ong on Oct 29, 2014, to ask him if he wanted any cannabis.

When Ong, now 41, told him he wanted to buy 500g of the drug, Mohamad Ismail said he quoted a price of $5,000.

Mohamad Ismail testified that they met before noon the next day at a taxi stand near Takashimaya in Orchard Road, where Ong gave him a $2,000 deposit.

Mohamad Ismail, who is now serving his jail sentence for drug-related offences, told the court that he called Ong on Oct 29, 2014, to ask him if he wanted any cannabis. When Ong, now 41, told him he wanted to buy 500g of the drug, Mohamad Ismail said he quoted a price of $5,000.

Ong was supposed to hand over the remaining $3,000 after receiving the drugs, Mohamad Ismail told District Judge Jasvender Kaur in court.

He added that he went to Jurong Port Road to collect the drugs from an unnamed Malaysian man later that day. But officers from the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) arrested him shortly after he received the cannabis. They found in his possession a block of 92.68g of cannabis and another block containing 385.1g of a cannabis mixture.

CNB officers arrested Ong, who is the grandson of Metro founder Ong Tjoe Kim and the son of its former group managing director Jopie Ong, at a taxi stand at Ngee Ann City Tower A the next day.

The day after his arrest, Ong was charged with trafficking cannabis, as well as possession and consumption of the drug.

On the first day of the trial on Feb 3, Ong's lawyer, Senior Counsel Tan Chee Meng from WongPartnership, had said his client did not obtain drugs for trafficking.

That day, the court also heard that according to Ong's statement to the CNB on Oct 31, 2014, the drugs he bought from Mohamad Ismail were for his personal consumption.

Mohamad Ismail was sentenced to 22 years in jail and 18 strokes of the cane on Sept 16, 2015, after pleading guilty to three of the seven drug-related charges.

Two of his charges are related to Ong's current ones.

If convicted of engaging in a conspiracy to traffic cannabis, Ong can be jailed for between five and 20 years, and ordered to receive between five and 15 strokes of the cane for each count.

The trial resumes today.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 21, 2017, with the headline ''We were just buyer and seller' when it came to drugs'. Print Edition | Subscribe