SINGAPORE: A former civilian officer with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) was sentenced to two weeks' jail on Friday (Jan 25) for making an unauthorised computer modification to exempt himself from the Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT).
The court heard that Labin Ismail, now 27, signed on with MHA in December 2013, after completing his full-time national service with the Singapore Police Force (SPF).
He was deployed to Delta Division at Clementi Police Headquarters, and was appointed a Police National Servicemen (PNSmen) Personnel Officer, with duties including overseeing medical reviews and remedial training for SPF national servicemen.
He was also responsible for overseeing the IPPT, a physical fitness test that includes push-ups, sit-ups and a 2.4km run that PNSmen must take yearly.
As part of his work, Labin had access to a computer system maintained by the SPF that allowed him to access and maintain records of PNSmen.
He used the system to take attendance, update particulars and upload staff appraisal reports, among other tasks. And he soon realised that he was able to amend IPPT statuses in the system.
More than a year after signing on with MHA, Labin logged into the system to amend his own IPPT records.
On Jan 9, 2015, he accessed his records and ticked the checkbox that said "IPPT Excused". In the remarks box, he added the text: "Excused IPPT".
This meant that his records reflected that he was permanently exempted from IPPT.
Labin did this even though he knew IPPT exemptions had to be applied for through proper processes that include submitting a doctor's recommendation and attendance for a medical review at the Police National Service Department Medical Review Centre.
His actions went unnoticed until January last year, when an acquaintance of his was hauled up to explain why he did not attend remedial training.
The acquaintance said he had not been able to book a session for his IPPT, and internal investigations uncovered that Labin had helped amend his records as well.
Labin had done this in March 2016. The prosecutor did not explain his motivations for doing so.
ACCUSED HAD AN ANKLE INJURY: DEFENCE
Labin's defence lawyer Noh Hamid told the court that his client had an ankle injury at the time that caused a momentary lapse in his judgment.
He pointed out that Labin was only 23 at the time of the offence, and it was his first crime in an otherwise good service record.
He urged the court to temper justice with mercy, while Deputy Public Prosecutor Ryan Lim asked for a custodial sentence, saying that he knew it was not the right thing to do.
District Judge Marvin Bay said the offence had been committed against a public institution by the very person entrusted with the maintenance of these records.
"This offence undermines the integrity of IPPT and its public policy objectives," said the judge.
"As an essential component of national service, IPPT represents a personal commitment to the collective objective of national service."
For causing an unauthorised computer modification, Labin could have been jailed for up to three years, fined a maximum of S$10,000, or both.