A 70-year old Indian origin Singaporean on Monday sentenced to four months' jail and fined SGD900 after pleading guilty to one charge of corruption, that was accepting six free trips between Singapore and neighbouring Johor state of Malaysia in exchange for furthering the business interests of a sub-contractor of the National Parks Board (NParks). Teva Raj Palanisamy, a former senior director at the NParks, obtained bribes in the form of six free trips between Singapore and Johor between August 2018 and March 2020, making the trips on personal matters, such as to attend a function and a dinner party, as well as visits to a law firm in Johor, the Channel News Asia reported. At the time of the offences, Teva was a senior director of NParks' Municipal Landscapes Division, which manages and maintains the greenery on government land.
The court heard that Teva worked with a director at Soon Sin Contracts, which had been sub-contracted to perform grass maintenance works for NParks. The director of Soon Sin Contracts was also a GrabHitch driver at the time and made round trips between Singapore and Malaysia for SGD150. Teva's brother, other family members and a colleague from the Municipal Landscapes Division also travelled with him on some of these trips. Soon Sin's director agreed to provide the transport services in hopes that Teva would show favour to his firm, such as by issuing warning letters instead of notices of infringements or liquidated damages, according to court documents. During NParks' inspections of sub-contractors, those found to have infringed safety regulations or other requirements are issued notices of infringements or liquidated damages that carry penalties. Teva was the only officer in the Municipal Landscapes Division empowered to approve waivers of these notices.
The court also heard that Teva showed favour to Soon Sin in November 2019, when another NParks contractor faced delays in grass-cutting works. He suggested that the contractor get a sub-contractor to cover their work, and made arrangements for Soon Sin to take over the grass-cutting works for three months. He also instructed NParks staff not to issue any notice of infringement to the contractor. Another charge of corruption was taken into consideration for sentencing. This involved Teva's acceptance of a Macao hotel stays worth about SGD260 from the general manager of another NParks contractor.