Doctor on trial for helping HIV-positive boyfriend deceive MOM

Doctor on trial for helping HIV-positive boyfriend deceive MOM

A nurse tests a blood sample during a free HIV test at a blood tests party, part of a campaign to p
File photo of a blood sample during an HIV test. (Photo: REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha)

SINGAPORE: A Singaporean doctor is on trial, which opened on Monday (Sep 25), for allegedly helping his HIV-positive American boyfriend dupe the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) into issuing him an employment pass.

Ler Teck Siang, 36, is accused of giving a sample of his own blood to be submitted so that Mikhy K Farrera-Brochez could hide his HIV status.

He allegedly did this twice, first in March 2008 and again in November 2013 when Brochez’ employment pass was up for renewal. The application was subsequently granted.

Ler, who was previously head of the National Public Health Unit (NPHU) at the Ministry of Health, faces another two counts of lying to public servants as well as the two counts of cheating MOM into giving Brochez an employment pass.

In December 2013, Ler allegedly lied to a Ministry of Health official from the surveillance and enforcement branch by denying that Brochez was at his clinic at Twin City Medical Centre the month before.

As a result, the official dropped an investigation into the blood test.

The police also stopped investigating when Ler is said to have lied to a police officer in January 2014 about the blood tests.

A fifth charge under the Official Secrets Act will be dealt with separately at a later date, according to court documents.

Ler is accused of “failing to take reasonable care” of a thumbdrive which had secret information – a registry containing the details of people who had tested HIV-positive in Singapore before February 2012.

He had access to this information while he was head of the NPHU.

At the opening of his trial, Ler, who is conducting his own defence, said a police statement he gave on May 23, 2016 was made involuntarily, after a police officer threatened him.

He also accused investigators of conducting a “witch hunt” to “get me to implicate myself”.

Three police officers involved in the investigation testified on Monday and denied the allegations. District Judge Luke Tan will decide whether prosecutors will be able to rely on Ler’s statement as evidence after he has heard evidence from Brochez, who will testify on Tuesday.

Brochez will be brought to court from prison, where he is serving a 28-month sentence for multiple offences, including cheating the MOM, lying to a public servant, using forged educational certificates and drugs charges. 

Source: CNA/vc