SINGAPORE, Nov 24 — A director-general at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has been charged over his alleged misuse of diplomatic bags for personal packages containing Panadol and luxury watches.

On Thursday (Nov 23), Gilbert Oh Hin Kwan, 44, appeared in court where he was handed three charges — two for cheating and one for providing false information to a public servant.

Charge sheets state that sometime between December 2022 and January 2023, Oh allegedly asked his MFA colleague Dion Loke Cheng Wang to send one package to China and another to Singapore through the diplomatic bag service.

The packages were addressed to Mr Loke but were instead allegedly intended for Oh’s personal acquaintances.

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He allegedly did this on two separate occasions.

A diplomatic bag service is used for conveying official correspondence and items to and from MFA and its overseas offices. The bags are sealed and protected by diplomatic immunity and cannot be searched, seized or opened by customs.

Oh also allegedly gave false information to MFA’s deputy secretary, Mr Ong Eng Chuan, about the owner of the package of luxury watches, stating that the items belonged to his father even though he knew that information was not true.

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The prosecution said in court that it was ready to proceed with two of Oh’s charges, with the other charge taken into consideration during sentencing.

In response, defence counsel Shashi Nathan told the court that he would like to ask for a longer adjournment as he needs to write to the Attorney-General’s Chambers to discuss matters.

Oh’s case will be heard again on Dec 21.

If found guilty for each charge of cheating, Oh could be jailed for up to three years or fined, or both.

If found guilty for providing a public servant with false information, he could be jailed for two years or fined, or both.

In a response to TODAY’s query on Thursday, an MFA spokesperson said that it is aware that one of its officers has been charged in court on Nov 23.

The officer has been on no-pay leave while investigations were ongoing, the spokesperson added.

“MFA expects all its staff to uphold the highest standards of conduct. As the matter is currently before the courts, MFA is unable to comment further.” — TODAY