SINGAPORE: The doctor at the heart of the HIV data leak conducted his own defence in an ongoing drug-related trial on Friday (Jul 12), claiming that he had given prostate massages and not illegal drug injections.
This was among various explanations given by 38-year-old Ler Teck Siang, who appeared on the witness stand in prison garb, for the case the prosecution built against him.
Prosecution witness Sim Eng Chee had testified that he regularly bought "slamming services" - slang for intravenous drug injections - from the former head of the Ministry of Health's National Public Health Unit.
They made arrangements for the services, which cost between S$30 and S$50 per session, in messages via the Line chat app, which the prosecution had shown to the court.
Ler explained that when he said he offered "slamming services", he was referring to prostate massages, prostate stimulation or perineum massages.
He claimed that he told Sim he had some experience providing prostate massages as they "can enhance erections" and boost his libido.
While he was preparing to give Sim the massage, Ler claimed that Sim told him what slamming really meant within the circle - the intravenous injection of drugs.
"SLAMMING" WAS AN INSIDE JOKE: LER
Ler said he was "quite mortified" and said that was not what he meant in his advertisement of "slamming services".
He had used an image of a basketballer performing a slam dunk on his profile on Grindr - a dating app used by gay men - along with the message that said he provided a "slamming good time". Ler explained that what he meant by the term "slamming" was "invigorating".
Ler said that after he became aware of the innuendo, he used the term "slamming" in his communications with Sim as an inside joke whenever they referred to his massage services.
Ler is contesting two charges: One for administering methamphetamine to Sim in a hotel room on Feb 26 last year, and another for possessing drug utensils.
At the time of his alleged drug-related offences, Ler was facing criminal proceedings for helping his romantic partner Mikhy Farrera Brochez dupe the Ministry of Manpower so that the American could work in Singapore.
Ler also gave several explanations for different elements that the prosecution argued showed that he was providing illegal drug injections to Sim for a fee.
He said references to poking with a syringe, contained in messages to Sim, referred to a Facebook poke.
SYRINGE WAS FOR FLOSSING, STRAW FOR ORIGAMI: LER
A meth-stained syringe found on Ler when he was arrested along with Sim at the Conrad Centennial Singapore on Mar 2 last year had come from his partner Brochez's room, Ler claimed.
He said he used the syringe as a substitute for floss to flush out food particles from his teeth, a trick he learned from Brochez.
READ: Mikhy Brochez found guilty of trying to extort Singapore government in HIV registry leak trial
Ler also said the straws found on him when he was arrested were for origami.
"I wanted to use this straw as origami material to fold it into a star," said Ler, before detailing how he would fold the straw into various shapes.
He also said that "coke" referenced in text messages referred not to cocaine but to Coca-cola, as he wanted to use that to make fake blood for a prank.
"G WATER" AN IN-GAME POTION: LER
Sim had told the court that he would use a substance called "G water" to boost the effects of illicit drugs he took, before engaging in sex as part of "play" with various sex partners.
Ler would help inject him with drugs including meth before the G water was consumed and the sex began.
However, Ler said the G water referred instead to a potion in an online game that he played.
READ: Seized syringe was for patients' insulin, claims doctor accused of selling illegal drug injections
Saying he was an avid gamer, Ler said: "The G refers to a growth potion whereby after your avatar or character takes the G, there is a period of time when you can gain experience at double the normal rate."
He said he no longer remembered the name of the game. Mentions of "play", which Sim said referred to engaging in sexual activity after taking drugs, referred to playing this game, Ler said.
The G potion was an in-game item that could be bought with real-world currency, claimed Ler, and players could exchange items.
"Sim's character was a higher level than mine, so he could purchase the item at a lower price," he said. "So when I asked him for the G, it was in the context of asking him to share this."
EXPLANATIONS "ALL LIES": PROSECUTION
Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Wuan put it to Ler that his explanations were "all lies".
Instead, Ler knew that G water was used to enhance the high of taking drugs. Ler had testified that a high can refer to several things - including a sugar high, the high from an erection and a high from drugs.
The prosecutor also charged that Ler knew the real meanings of "play" and "slamming", which refer to sexual activities post-drugs and the intravenous injections of drugs respectively.
Ler maintained that he disagreed, and had used these terms as he knew what their double meanings were, and had meant them as innuendo for an inside joke.
If found guilty of administering meth to Sim, Ler could be jailed for up to 10 years, fined a maximum of S$20,000, or both.
For possessing drug utensils, he could be jailed for three years, fined a maximum of S$10,000 or both.