Thanks to the amending of laws and policies, Dr Woffles Wu was charged under section 81(3) of the Road Traffic Act. Shanmugam said that at the time of the traffic offences, in 2005 and again in 2006, section 204 of the Penal Code had not been enacted yet.
Obstructing, preventing, perverting or defeating course of justice
204A. Whoever intentionally obstructs, prevents, perverts or defeats the course of justice shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 7 years, or with fine, or with both.
Explanation.––A mere warning to a witness that he may be prosecuted for perjury if he gives false evidence is insufficient to constitute an offence.
However, the nip-and-tuck doctor could have been easily nabbed under section 182 of the Penal Code, a provision used in cases of false information declared to the police in traffic related violations.
False information, with intent to cause a public servant to use his lawful power to the injury of another person
182. Whoever gives to any public servant any information which he knows or believes to be false, intending thereby to cause, or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby cause, such public servant to use the lawful power of such public servant to the injury or annoyance of any person, or to do or omit anything which such public servant ought not to do or omit if the true state of facts respecting which such information is given were known by him, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine which may extend to $5,000, or with both.
Still, 81(3) of the Road Traffic Act does not exactly get him out of the woods:
Duty to give information
81(3) Any person who wilfully furnishes any false or misleading information under subsection (1) or (2) shall be guilty of an offence.
According to the Law Minister, who was once a Senior Partner and head of Litigation & Dispute Resolution at Allen & Gledhill LLP, the misleading statements in question were made by Mr Kuan, which was why the charge for Woffles could only be that of abetment. That was the report on Sunday Times, 17 June 2012.
A few days back on Friday, 15 June, the words from the horse's mouth seem to say something else.
So who should we believe, the rich minister or the rich plastic surgeon? And please, don't quote PM Lee Hsien Loong again:
"Do you believe everything you read in the Straits Times?" (Kent Ridge Ministerial Forum at NUS, April 2007)