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The Straits Times
Apr 21, 2023
A National Environment Agency (NEA) officer, tasked to check on the pest situation at dormitories, unlawfully solicited $534 in loans from 13 representatives of the facilities.
Mohamad Shahril Selasa, 32, who is no longer working for NEA after his contract expired in 2022, managed to convince eight of them to hand him $293 in loans but repaid them only $88 in total.
He pleaded guilty on Friday to six graft charges and was sentenced to 16 weeks in jail. He was also ordered to pay a penalty of $205 which represented the outstanding loans.
Another 13 charges were considered during sentencing.
District Judge Marvin Bay said that Shahril had approached the dormitory representatives for bribes in exchange for leniency during inspections.
The judge added: “It should be clear that there can be no tolerance for public sector corruption of any scale in Singapore.
“The leniency exercised by the accused in mosquito breeding checks on persons and entities he was duty-bound to check, could potentially impact vector control efforts and stymie campaigns to stamp out mosquito-borne diseases.”
At the time of the offences, Shahril was working as a vector control officer for NEA. If a dormitory was found to have failed the inspection, NEA may issue a $200 fine.
Shahril would first ask a dormitory representative to send to him a soft copy of the facility’s pest control report on messaging platform WhatsApp. After that, Shahril would use the same platform to ask for loans.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Cheng You Duen told the court that Shahril committed the offences in 2021. He had also said that he needed the cash for his daily necessities, claiming that he had a debt of around $70,000.
On one such occasion, around mid-2021, Shahril went with a colleague to inspect a dormitory in Senoko Way.
On Nov 7, 2021, he sent text messages to the facility’s representative to ask for a loan of $18, adding that he needed the money to buy milk for his child. The representative handed him the cash and Shahril paid back the loan five days later.
He later sent the representative another text message to ask for a loan of $25.
Shahril claimed that he needed the money to top up his EZ-Link card and to pay for his meals. The representative handed him the money but this time, Shahril did not repay the loan.
He used a similar method to solicit loans from representatives of other dormitories located at places including Sungei Kadut Avenue and Sungei Kadut Loop.
Court documents did not disclose how the offences came to light but Shahril was charged with multiple counts of graft in March 2023.