SINGAPORE: The National University of Singapore (NUS) law professor on trial for corruption in a sex—for—grades sought to discredit his former student as he cross—examined her on Monday.
Tey Tsun Hang, 41, is accused of obtaining gratification in the form of gifts and sex, in exchange for lifting 23—year—old Ms Darinne Ko Wen Hui’s grades.
When Ms Ko took the stand, Tey questioned her in a gentle manner.
She told the court that Tey did not promise any favour in her academic performance.
The 23—year—old said Tey had never given her any impression that he was someone who could influence or shape her future, academically or career—wise.
When asked if she ever felt taken advantage of by Tey, she said "no".
Ms Ko also dismissed suggestions that she tried to bribe Tey into giving her good grades.
She gave an account of the circumstances leading to the recording and her endorsement of her first statement made on 2 April 2012.
Ms Ko said she was hauled in by two officers from the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), at about 7am or 8am during the examination period.
She said she was deprived of sleep, felt scared and anxious, and was interrogated until about 7pm before she was brought to see CPIB’s deputy director, Teng Khee Fatt.
She said the recording officer had told Mr Teng she had been uncooperative.
Mr Teng, she said, told her that the evidence she gave the CPIB was "not making out the elements of the charge against Tey".
During their two—and—a—half—hour conversation, she said Mr Teng told her that corruption is a two—sided offence and that indemnity could be granted if the need arose.
She also said Mr Teng had wanted her to write that she had given the gifts because she wanted "favour" from Tey but she refused.
The two then argued about the terms to be used and finally settled on the words "undue prejudice", which she took as "treating her unfairly".
"I was slightly more comfortable with that compromise even though it was still not an accurate depiction of the true state of affairs," said Ms Ko.
When asked by Tey what the true state of affairs were, Ms Ko said: "I only bought Prof Tey the gifts because I liked him and we were in a relationship."
But Mr Teng didn’t buy this answer, she said.
Ms Ko said he told her that it was not possible for a girl to buy a guy gifts.
She said Mr Teng also insisted that the reason why she bought those gifts was so that Tey would show her favour vis—a—vis her grades.
Ms Ko said she was told she was not allowed to go home until the CPIB recorded a statement from her.
When asked if the statement was accurate, Ms Ko said it wasn’t.
She said the inaccuracy pertained to her motivation for showering Tey with gifts.
Earlier in the day, the prosecution went through the impeached parts of the statements and evidence provided by Ms Ko.
The court heard that Ms Ko also took three corporate insolvency subjects over three consecutive semesters.
The former district judge was trying to make the point that Ms Ko had an interest in insolvency law from the beginning. He tried to show there were only three professors who offered insolvency electives at NUS, so she would end up in his class at some point in time.
He also tried to show that her grades in insolvency were generally good.
Tey’s cross—examination also touched on the modules Ms Ko enrolled in and the grades she got.
When asked if there was anyone else she could have done another elective on corporate insolvency with, Ms Ko said she did not believe so.
This explained why she took several modules including property law, company law, as well as equity and trust. Tey also taught equity and trust. She obtained B+ for all three modules.
Ms Ko testified that the equity and trust class was assigned to her.
When asked if she was seeking a favour from Tey by asking him to be her supervisor for her thesis on insolvency, Ms Ko flatly rejected the idea.
In the last hour before the trial was adjourned, the Montblanc pen in question finally appeared in court as evidence.
Tey pointed out that in her CPIB statement, Ms Ko said he had lost his fountain pen, which led to her buying him a $740 Montblanc pen, that was the Frederic Chopin edition, as his belated birthday gift.
Tey told her she had "recalled wrongly" and that his original fountain pen had been found. He admitted his supposedly "lost" pen as evidence.
But Ms Ko explained that she only heard from Tey that he had lost a fountain pen and did not know if he indeed had the pen.
Tey then quickly said: "The defendant does not seek to blame you. The defendant only wants to tell this honorable court that he had never lost his Sheaffer fountain pen, which can indeed be traced back to some 20 years ago."
Tey also tried to make his point that the gifts were an expression of her affection for him as the Montblanc pen had his name engraved on it and the CYC tailored shirts had his initials on the sleeves.
Lead prosecutor Andre Jumabhoy singled out differences in areas such as the time that Tey had called Ms Ko and revealed to her confidential ranking and grades before the release of the results.
Ms Ko had told the CPIB that Tey had called at about 11am but told the court last week that he called a few minutes before the official release of the results.
Another area was the bill for the Garibaldi dinner, which she had paid for.
With impeachment, the judge will decide at the end of the trial which parts of evidence to take into consideration.
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