Ex-MP Choo Wee Khiang charged with corruption

From ‘Former table tennis president and manager charged with corruption’, 8 Dec 2011, article by Hannah Teoh, Asiaone.com

Two former employees of the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA), including the former president, have been charged for corruption and criminal breach of trust. The first man, Mr Choo Wee Khiang, 57, was the president of STTA at the time of the alleged offences.

…Choo had also received gifts from Chinese coaches and players. In 2005, Choo received $1,500 from a former assistant coach of STTA, Mr Luo Jie, on behalf of Mr Liu Zhongze, who was a national team player at that time. The money was given to Choo in exchange for giving Liu more opportunities to represent STTA in table tennis tournaments.

Between 2003 and 2004, Choo also received US$600 (S$768.95) on two occasions from Mr Shi Mei Sheng, a former STTA coach, as a reward for approving the use of training facilities in China.

…Choo resigned from the STTA in July 2008. He had been with the Association for 20 years. Choo will be charged for three counts of corruptly accepting gratification and one count of criminal breach of trust.

The maximum punishment for corruption is a $100,000 fine and five years’ jail on each charge. In 1999, Choo, a former MP for Jalan Besar GRC served a two-week sentence for issuing false invoices to help a family friend cheat a finance company.

Choo was not only an ex-MP, but an ex-convict as well. What’s absurd is he had a stint as STTA President from 1992 to 1998, was jailed in 1999 for 2 weeks, fined $10,000 and barred from elections for FIVE years, and then RE-ELECTED back as President in 2002. What gives?  In 2009, he was even awarded the ‘International Olympic Committee President’s Trophy’ at the Singapore Sports Awards. Here’s a sample of his testimonial:

During his tenure as President of STTA, he introduced and implemented the strategic plan to promote table tennis to all and to bring glory to Singapore. He was instrumental in the setting up of the centre of excellence for table tennis in conjunction with the construction of the STTA Training Hall in Toa Payoh. He pioneered the Foreign Sports Talent scheme, oversaw the induction and development of a team of talented players with world class coaches. Under his charge the women’s table tennis team rose to number 2 and the men’s team to number 10 in world rankings. A most memorable and historic achievement was when the women’s table tennis team won an Olympic silver medal in at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, the first medal for Singapore in 48 years.

Choo Wei Khiang didn’t need a yellow ribbon project to integrate back into society, he was literally handed gold for an illusory sporting success and had his past brush with the law conveniently forgotten. If found guilty, we’d have even less reason to be proud of the much decorated silver medal, earned not just through the mercenary labours of a foreign talent scheme, but dirty cash as well.

But wait, there’s more. In 1992, while he was still MP for Jalan Besar GRC, he made a racist slur about Indians as follows:

‘One evening, I drove to Little India and it was in complete darkness not because there was no light, but because there were too many Indians around’

Yes it’s an old nugget that might have been funny at some point in history but rather tasteless today. In the same year, while still as MP, he was slapped a 2 month ban from golfing at Singapore Island Country Club for ‘dangerous play’ (MP Choo’s 2 month ban confirmed, 23 July 1992, ST), probably a first for any politician making a nuisance of himself on the green by assaulting people with golf balls. It’s disappointing how people forget easily, celebrating dirty, racist, reckless teeing ex-politicians and getting them back up to speed in society so quickly while others with a less illustrious career path struggle to even get a job. Most people don’t get out of jail of a financial felony and become elected PRESIDENT of anything within a matter of years. Unless of course, you promise to bring the nation an Olympic silver medal, upon which all is forgiven. Over TABLE freakin’ TENNIS.

Here’s an awkward moment for Vivian Balakrishnan, who had this to say about a man being charged with graft as we speak, in response to Lee Bee Wah’s taking over to ‘clean up the house’ in 2008.

I must say I am very uncomfortable with that line of questioning because I want to say there’s one more person we need to acknowledge, and that’s Mr Choo. He has dedicated many, many years of his life to table tennis.

Wee Khiang’s nephew happens to be none other than Desmond Choo, who has received nomination for a dubious honour himself by AWARE, the ALAMAK award for making a sexist remark on wives during his election hustings. Let’s just hope racism and greed doesn’t run in the family as well.

Postscript: On 30 April 2014, Choo was acquitted of 3 corruption charges, in addition to the criminal breach of trust charge of which he was cleared in 2013, let off with nothing more than a ‘stern warning’ from the prosecution.

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2 Responses

  1. Choo is the epitome of what you can get away with when you are a member of the MIW.

  2. […] politicians… all pretty quiet while the PM suggested Yaw was a bad choice WP made. I suppose Choo Wee Khiang and Ong Seh Hong would be clapping very hard with WP’s mistake in human resource […]

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