SINGAPORE – A former deputy director at JTC Corporation and a JTC senior project manager were convicted after admitting on Friday to being part of a conspiracy to clear part of Kranji woodland before getting approval.
The duo were working on the development of the Kranji Agri-Food Innovation Park (Afip) and the court heard that a total of 362 trees were cut down illegally.
Chong Pui Chih, 47, who was a deputy director at JTC Corporation, pleaded guilty to three charges under the Parks and Trees Act.
Neo Jek Lin, 44, who was a JTC senior project manager, pleaded guilty to three charges under the Parks and Trees Act and a fourth charge under the Wildlife Act.
The prosecution said they were part of a quartet of officers from JTC and CPG Consultants who acted in gross violation of requirements, causing the felling of trees without approval and without taking the necessary steps to ensure wildlife-related requirements were complied with.
The Government had announced the development of the Kranji Afip in March 2019.
A plot of land located at Kranji Close and Kranji Road had been set aside for the development of the park.
The 18.4ha site was vacant land, which required the felling of existing trees for the planned development.
JTC was selected as the project owner and development agency for the Kranji Afip and Neo was appointed project manager, while Chong was his direct supervisor.
Some time before Jan 13, 2021, Neo and Chong engaged in a conspiracy with co-accused Jimmy Liu Wing Tim, 63, and Tan See Chee, 64.
Liu and Tan were from CPG. Tan was appointed qualified person for the project and Liu the qualified person representative to assist him.
The four conspired to cut trees growing on the land without approval from the Commissioner of Parks and Recreation, as they were worried the project would be delayed as it would have to satisfy various official requirements.
The prosecution said that the total number of trees that were cut without approval was “enormous by any measure”, and that the exact impact on the environment could not be calculated because the offences took place before any studies were undertaken.
The prosecution is asking for a $34,000 fine for Neo and a $28,000 fine for Chong.
Their cases have been adjourned to Nov 9 for sentencing.