SINGAPORE, July 12 — Ler Teck Siang had a syringe, a bottle and two straws with him when he was arrested at a hotel.
But while the items were found to be stained with methamphetamine, the Singaporean doctor at the heart of the HIV Registry leak claimed that he wanted to use the bottle and straws to make arts and crafts. He also said that he found the syringe in the study room of his partner, Mikhy Farrera-Brochez.
Ler said this in court today during his trial for two drug-related offences, as he began conducting his own defence.
He is accused of administering methamphetamine to Sim Eng Chee in a room in Swissotel The Stamford Hotel on Feb 26, 2018, as well as possessing utensils intended for drug use at Conrad Centennial hotel on March 2, 2018, the day they were arrested.
Sim was jailed for drug consumption and possession, and is currently serving out the remainder of his sentence in home detention.
Ler is contesting his charges. Today, he told the court that he intended to use the straws to fold “lucky stars” or to make an origami dog, before putting them in a bottle to sell for extra cash.
“All this was in my mind, but I didn’t get around to doing it. I thought I could also stick strips of fluorescent glow-in-the-dark paper on it and it could be sold off as a collectible item,” he added.
This morning, Ler testified on the witness stand for about two hours.
Among other things, he reiterated his claims that he was giving “sports massages” to Sim instead of providing “slamming” services — a term used by drug abusers to refer to the administering of controlled drugs by injection.
Sim had earlier testified to meeting Ler on the gay dating app Grindr, where Ler advertised his services.
Ler said today he did not know that slamming could mean drug injections. His profile picture on Grindr depicted a basketballer performing a slam dunk, and he had advertised “a slamming good service”.
“I meant it to mean stimulating or invigorating,” he said.
Ler said that Sim engaged his services on 15 occasions in January 2018 and 20 times in February.
During one of their sessions, Ler said that Sim asked if he knew how to provide “urut batin”, which he took to mean that Sim wanted a libido boost.
Ler told him that he had experience massaging the prostate, which could enhance erections. He then proceeded to give Sim a perineal massage, then a prostate massage.
“As I was getting ready, Sim asked if I knew slamming could have an alternative connotation. I didn’t know that before he told me and I was quite surprised. I was quite mortified and I told him that wasn’t the intent of my advertisement,” Ler testified.
‘Sorry I poke you twice’
Ler also referred to a text message he had sent Sim on the messaging platform Line, which read: “Sorry I poke you twice before going to the forearm”.
Ler claimed that he was referring to a Facebook poke, and that he had meant “foreman”, referring to one of Sim’s friends.
“If I’m in the middle of a game and I need to contact him, I switch to Facebook Messenger and poke him to indicate that I’ve arrived. I’ve found that when I switch to Facebook Messenger, it doesn’t disrupt my game as much,” he said.
Ler also explained Sim’s request for a “double slam” on one occasion. Sim earlier testified that it meant two injections at one go.
Ler said today that he thought that Sim was asking for a two-finger prostate massage.
Sim earlier said that Ler charged him S$40 (RM120) per session and would give a 50 per cent discount to customers who asked for a second shot within 24 hours.
But Ler told the court that if he intended to provide illegal drug injections, he would have charged a much higher price as “it is a very risky endeavour”.
“I would have capitalised on drug addicts’ needs to chase a high and tried to make profits as much as possible. I charged a lower price because the true service I provided was time-based massage services,” he insisted.
Intended to dispose of syringe
On March 2, 2018, Ler and Sim were arrested at Conrad Centennial hotel, where the items were found on Ler.
While on the witness stand, Ler backtracked on his previous claim that he used the syringe to dislodge food particles from his teeth.
He admitted that while he used syringes as a substitute for dental floss, the one found in his bag was retrieved from the study room of his American partner Brochez.
Ler was clearing the room in the apartment he rented with Brochez, who was jailed here in August 2017. Ler said he intended to dispose of the syringe, but stored it in his bag and “completely forgot about it” until he was arrested.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Wuan was having none of it. During cross-examination, he put it to Ler that his assertions were all lies. Ler disagreed.
The trial continues on July 25. — TODAY