Choo Wee Khiang (朱为强; 朱為強; Zhū Wéi Qiáng) is a Singaporean former politician. A former member of the country's governing People's Action Party (PAP), he was elected as a Member of Parliament (MP) in three elections. Choo resigned from his MP position and PAP membership before being convicted for cheating. He was charged in 2011 with three counts of corruption and one of criminal breach of trust during his tenure at the Singapore Table Tennis Association (of which he served as President from 1991–98 and from 2002–08).
Career[edit | edit source]
Choo first became a Member of Parliament (MP) after the 1988 general elections where his party, PAP, contested and won the election in Marine Parade Group Representation Constituency (GRC) against the Singapore Justice Party.
In the 1991 general elections, Choo moved to Jalan Besar GRC and was re-elected via a walkover. In March 1992, Choo caused controversy when he remarked in Parliament about driving through Little India and finding the neighbourhood in "complete darkness" "not because there was no light, but because there were too many Indians around there". This led to calls for his resignation. Choo later apologised, calling his remarks a "joke". In the 1997 general elections, Choo contested in Jalan Besar GRC again and his team won the elections against the team from Singapore Democratic Party. In December 1999, Choo resigned from his MP position and PAP membership before pleading guilty to cheating charges in court. With Choo's resignation, Acting Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the other Jalan Besar GRC MPs will continue to serve the constituents.
Choo was the deputy president of the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) from 1989 to 1991 and was elected as the president in 1991 before resigning in 1998. After a four-year break, he became president of the association again in 1998. He succeeded Yeo Guat Kwang as STTA's president in 2002 after being elected unopposed at STTA's biennial general meeting at the Singapore Table Tennis Academy. Choo stepped down as president during STTA's biennial general meeting in 2008. After leaving STTA in 2008, Choo became the general manager of Marina Bay Golf Course. Choo was also Asia’s representative in the International Table Tennis Federation Development and Continental Council from 2004 and the Honorary Treasurer of the Asian Table Tennis Union from 1991. In 2009, Choo received the IOC President's Trophy from the Singapore National Olympic Committee for outstanding contributions to the development of table tennis in Singapore since 1989.
Legal troubles[edit | edit source]
Cheating conviction[edit | edit source]
In November 1990, Choo issued a false invoice from his company claiming to have sold equipment worth more than a million dollars to Wong See Kee, Choo's brother-in-law. Wong had used the invoice to get S$830,000 in financing, supposedly to pay for the purchase of the equipment. In 1999, Choo was charged with cheating. He resigned from his MP position and PAP before pleading guilty in court to a charge which was reduced from aggravated to simple cheating. Under Singapore law, an MP loses his seat if he gets a year's jail or more than S$2,000 fine.
Choo's former fellow MP and Senior Counsel, K Shanmugam, represented Choo. Shanmugam pushed for a fine instead of a jail sentence. Petition letters by grassroots leaders, vouching for Mr Choo's character, described Choo as "hardworking," "compassionate," "selfless" and dedicated to community service. Lee Hsien Loong, the then Acting Prime Minister, said that Choo has done the right thing in resigning as an MP and PAP member, before pleading guilty in court.
Corruption charges[edit | edit source]
From 2005 to 2007, the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) received several anonymous complaints against Choo alleging that he had charged his personal airfares, expenses, phone bills to STTA and received gifts from Chinese coaches and players. The total amount involved about S$10,600. The offences were allegedly committed during Choo's tenure as the president of the STTA.
The CPIB conducted investigations revealed that in 2005, Choo had received S$1,500 from Liu Zhongze, who was then a national team player, and Luo Jie, who was then an assistant coach of the STTA, in return for giving Liu more opportunities to represent the STTA in table tennis tournaments. Between 2003 and 2004, Choo is believed to have accepted USD$600 on two separate occasions from Shi Mei Sheng, who was then a STTA coach for approval of usage of two different training facilities in China.
On 8 December 2011, Choo was charged with three counts of corruption and one of criminal breach of trust. Koh Li Ping, former High Performance Manager of STTA, was also involved in the criminal breach of trust charge.
The CPIB said that between 2002 and 2003, Luo Jie, whose work pass only permitted him to work for STTA, provided table tennis training to students of Fuhua Secondary School. But the school was unable to pay him for the training provided, which amounted to S$8,400. Luo Jie told Choo and Koh about this, both of them then allegedly arranged with the school principal to engage STTA in a new training arrangement. The proceeds for the new training arrangement received will be used to pay Luo Jie for the outstanding fees. After STTA received the payment from the school, Koh obtained approval from Choo to authorise a payment of S$8,400 to Luo Jie, even though the latter did not provide any training services under the new training arrangement.
Choo's case has been adjourned to December 22. If found guilty of corruption, he can be fined S$100,000 and jailed five years for each charge. The punishment for criminal breach of trust is a jail term of up to 15 years and a fine.
Choo was acquitted of his charge of criminal breach of trust after the prosecution dropped the three other counts of corruption and proceeded with the criminal breach of trust charge.