The Prosecution’s first witness’ testimony was torn to shreds by the Defence on the first day of the hearing.
Sgt Lester Wong, who said he was performing counter duties on the date of the alleged offence, told the court that he was the one who had received a complaint from a member of the public that he said identified himself only as ‘Peter’.
Asked by the Defence if he had taken down the particulars of the caller as well as his contact number, Sgt Wong said that he didn’t. Asked if he had entered the call in the Station Diary, the officer said no. Asked if he had written down what the caller told him during the call, the Sgt indicated in the negative.
Pressed on whether it was normal for an officer performing counter duties to not enter calls in the Station Diary, Sgt Wong admitted that it was not. Asked why he had omitted this entry, the officer said: “It slipped off my mind.”
And yet, Sgt Wong could remember exactly what ‘Peter’ had told him: “There were members of the SDP giving a talk and selling newspapers.” The officer could repeat the call word for word – twice. And this was after a lapse of 6 months from April to October!
It gets even more incredible.
The officer had earlier indicated that the he received the complaint at around 9 am. He later told the court under cross-examination by Mr Yap Keng Ho that he had then informed the Operations Room between 9:30 am and 9:45 am. Pressed on how long it took him to call the Operations Room from the time he hung up the phone with ‘Peter’, the Sgt said between 2-3 minutes.
You don’t have to be Einstein to see that the times don’t add up. If Mr Wong received the call at 9 am and took only 2-3 minutes to call the Ops Room, how does one explain the 30 minutes or so that is unaccounted for? Sgt Wong said that the call with ‘Peter’ lasted for only 5 minutes (which itself is an exaggeration).
Dr Chee then rose to query the witness on this. He repeated the question to the officer: “Did you call the Ops Room between 9:30 am and 9:45am?” Sgt Wong again answered if the affirmative. It is important to point out to readers that the Judge had recorded this in his notes which is pertinent to what happened subsequently.
When Dr Chee reminded the witness that he was on oath and that he had better think through his answers carefully lest he commit perjury, the DPP intervened and said that Sgt Wong had originally said that he had informed his Team Leader and not the Ops Room at the said time between 9:30 am and 9:45 am.
At this juncture the Sgt then changed his answer that he could not remember what time he called the Ops Room.
The Judge then asked Sgt Wong if the officer was referring to the Team Leader (remember, this is inspite of the fact that the Judge had earlier recorded that Sgt Wong was referring to the Ops Room and not his Team Leader). What was Sgt Wong’s reply to Judge Eddie Tham? Team Leader.
Dr Chee then protested that the Judge should not lead the witness.
(At one stage during Mr Yap’s cross-examination, the Judge had asked the DPP if she wanted to object to Mr Yap asking a question. The DPP who was quiet until then didn’t need a second invitation and rose to register her objection which the Judge then sustained. Dr Chee asked Mr Tham whether it was normal for a judge to ask the DPP during a trial whether he or she wanted to object to a question. Judge Tham refused to answer.)
Sgt Wong also revealed that before his shift that day, officers were briefed to watch out for “sensitive” (which Sgt Wong later admitted meant “political”) cases and that he was to inform the Team Leader when such calls were received.
Dr Chee pointed out that given that the police were told to look out for such sensitive cases, it was hard to believe that when Sgt Wong eventually received such a call that he would forget to take down the particulars of this mysterious ‘Peter’ and not record it in the Stations Diary.
It stands to reason that if ‘Peter’ cannot be identified he cannot be called to the witness box for cross-examination. Who was this elusive ‘Peter’? A PAP member, a PAP candidate, or even a PAP minister?
This goes to the heart of the Defendants’ case that the entire matter was initiated by the PAP during the election period and the police were mobilized to cripple the SDP’s campaign.
Without knowing who ‘Peter’ is, the identity of the complainant will never be known. Clever, isn’t it.
The hearing continues.