Singapore

NParks official in Brompton bikes case to claim trial

NParks official in Brompton bikes case to claim trial
Bernard Lim was charged in court last month with giving false information to MND officers. TODAY file photo
Published: 4:02 AM, September 28, 2013
Updated: 4:00 AM, September 30, 2013

SINGAPORE — The National Parks Board (NParks) Assistant Director at the centre of the statutory board’s controversial purchase of 26 foldable Brompton bicycles indicated yesterday, during a brief court mention, that he intends to claim trial to the charges levelled against him.

Bernard Lim Yong Soon, 42, was charged in court last month with giving false information to officers from the Ministry of National Development (MND) about his relationship with a director of Bikehop Singapore, the company which won the tender to supply the bicycles to NParks.

He also faces another charge of abetting Bikehop Singapore Director Lawrence Lim Chun How to lie about their friendship to the MND’s internal auditors.

He was not charged with corruption, however, as investigations by graft-busters and prosecutors failed to uncover corruption offences. A pre-trial conference has been set for Oct 24.

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan ordered an audit last year after it emerged that NParks had bought the bicycles at S$2,200 each for its officers, prompting questions over whether the agency got value for its purchases.

Under scrutiny was the fact that, at the close of NParks’ tender — which was open for six days on government procurement portal GeBIZ — in January last year, only one vendor, Bikehop Singapore, had responded offering two options: The Brompton and another more expensive brand.

After the audit, the MND said it had uncovered some discrepancies suggesting the possibility of bias in the procurement and that it had reported the matter to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau. NParks had previously said that Lim has been suspended from duty.

The offences Lim was charged with carry a punishment of up to one year’s jail or a fine of up to S$5,000 or both. AMANDA LEE