Ex-doc in HIV data-leak case Ler Teck Siang takes stand in trial for not providing urine sample for drug offences

Ler Teck Siang said he did not believe officers were giving him a "legal order" to provide the urine sample after he was arrested for drug-related offences.
Ler Teck Siang said he did not believe officers were giving him a "legal order" to provide the urine sample after he was arrested for drug-related offences. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Former doctor Ler Teck Siang, who was involved in the HIV registry data leak, took the stand on the second day of his trial on Wednesday (Sept 16) for not providing narcotics officers with a sample of his urine.

Representing himself, Ler, 39, pressed on with his argument that he did not believe officers were giving him a "legal order" to provide the urine sample after he had been arrested for drug-related offences on March 2, 2018.

While at the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) office in New Bridge Road, Ler said the officers did not give him enough details on providing a urine sample, which gave him the impression that he was not being legally ordered to do so.

He said they did not provide him with a timeframe of when he had to provide the sample, instruct him on how much urine he should provide, or a receptacle to do so.

"Theoretically, I could have just produced a drop of urine in my pants and that would have been providing urine," said Ler, who was shackled, on the stand.

In cross-examining Ler, Deputy Public Prosecutors Dwayne Lum and Lu Yiwei pointed out that the term "legal order" was missing in various statements taken by CNB officers that Ler had witnessed and signed.

DPP Lum added that both the officers who had instructed Ler to provide a urine sample also testified that there was no such conversation where Ler asked for a legal order.

DPP Lum asserted that this request was a "fabrication", saying to Ler: "The only evidence in this entire trial is your own assertion that you had requested for a legal order."

Under the Misuse of Drugs Act, it is an offence to fail to provide a CNB officer who reasonably suspects any person to have committed a drug-related offence with a urine sample without reasonable excuse.

Last October, Ler was sentenced to 15 months' jail for injecting drug abusers for a fee, and possessing drug utensils, after he was arrested with drug abuser Sim Eng Chee at the Conrad Centennial Hotel on March 2, 2018. Hotel staff called the authorities after they found drugs in Sim's hotel room.

The trial was adjourned to Oct 15.

 
 
 

Ler was struck off the medical register earlier this month.

He is currently serving a two-year sentence for helping his HIV-positive former partner, American Mikhy Farrera-Brochez, cheat the authorities into issuing him a work pass in 2008.

In the HIV registry scandal in 2019, the details of 14,200 HIV-positive patients were leaked online.

Ler, who was head of the National Public Health Unit between March 2012 and May 2013, also faces a charge under the Official Secrets Act.