SINGAPORE: The trial of former Member of Parliament Choo Wee Khiang continued on Wednesday, with the defence charging that the prosecution’s witness had "an axe to grind" with the accused.
Defence lawyer, K Muralidharan Pillai questioned Ms Wong Hui Leng, who was a general manager at the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA), about her working relationship with then—colleague, Koh Li Ping.
Koh, 44, is accused of abetting Choo in criminal breach of trust (CBT) during his tenure as president of the STTA.
Choo, 58, faces one count of CBT allegedly committed in 2005.
The court heard that Ms Wong had serious differences with Koh, a high performance manager at that time.
Ms Wong admitted that their working relationship was tense.
Mr Muralidharan also pointed out Ms Wong had given Koh a "D" for her performance in 2004.
This was in contrast to the "B" grade and positive assessment of Koh by Mr Wayde Clews of the Singapore Sports Council (SSC).
When he got wind of this, Choo told Ms Wong that she was being biased against Koh.
He said that Koh deserved a better grading.
The defence accused Ms Wong of bearing a grudge against Koh and Choo.
Many familiar table tennis names also came up during the cross—examination.
The prosecution’s case is that Choo conspired with former manager Koh to secure payment of S$8,400 for a trainer named Luo Jie, who was "moonlighting" at Fuhua Secondary School between 2001 and 2003.
But Mr Muralidharan pointed out that private coaching by trainers was common at STTA.
He listed former national player Jing Jun Hong, now the women’s national coach, as one of those who did so.
The defence also tried to make the point that payment from STTA to its players or coaches were common.
It named former national player Li Jia Wei as one who received payment from the association.
The defence said given these practices, it was not improper for STTA to pay Luo when it received money from Fuhua Secondary.
But Ms Wong explained that the contract that was struck by Choo was between STTA and the school, so any chargeable fee should go to the association and not to Luo.
As for the marked difference in appraisal, Ms Wong said Koh was in the marketing division for about half a year and then moved to the high performance division later.
She added that Koh spent more time at the STTA than she did at SSC.
Fourteen prosecution witnesses are expected to take the stand, including current STTA President Lee Bee Wah and a former principal of Fuhua Secondary School, Mr Ong Kian Choon.
Choo faces three other charges of corruption, allegedly committed between 2003 and 2005.
They have been stood down and will be dealt with separately at a later date.
Choo, who resigned from the STTA in July 2008, was charged in court in late 2011.
The trial continues.
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