Singapore's biggest online sex scandal case unfolds

April has been a busy month for those keeping abreast of Singapore’s biggest sex scandal involving several high profile individuals and one underage prostitute.

Camera crews and photographers camped outside the Subordinate Courts have been kept especially busy in their attempts to snap the best shots of the 48 men, some of whom, have taken to donning sunglasses, using files and brown paper bags to shield their face.

To say the online sex-ring scandal has captured the nation’s attention is an understatement.

A nation used to presenting a squeaky-clean image to the world, the unfolding drama has piqued the interest of our neighbouring countries.

In case, you’ve been living under a rock for the past month or so – here’s a lowdown on the case thus far.

What happened?

48 men were charged for having paid sex with an underage prostitute after engaging her services online.

Initial reports said around 80 men were assisting the police in the case.

According to reports, investigators have now narrowed the list to 62 men.

The men are alleged to have paid $450 to $850 for each sex session with the girl.

There is a court gag order on the identity of the alleged underage prostitute.

When did it happen?

The sexual encounters allegedly happened between 2010-2011. The men were charged in court on 16 and 19 April 2012. On 27 April, ex-principal Lee Lip Hong was the first man to be charged. He will serve 9 week in jail for the offence.

Who were involved?

The list of men was apparently uncovered in the alleged pimp’s laptop by the police during an anti-vice raid last year. The list includes high-ranking civil servants and businessmen, ranging from 21 to 48 years old.

The girl in the middle of the scandal was under 18 when the sexual encounters took place.

Where did it take place?

Reports say locations range from an apartment in the east as well as budget hotels in the downtown area and bigger hotels such as Mandarin Oriental and Shangri-La.

Why are they in trouble?

Prostitution is legal in Singapore under certain conditions but having paid sex with a prostitute under the age of 18 is illegal.

The offence carries a maximum jail term of seven years or a fine, or both.


Notable Figures

Tang Boon Thiew- alleged mastermind of the online vice ring

He was already charged in November with 34 counts of living off the earnings of a prostitute. Each charge could mean a jail term of up to five years and a fine of up to $10,000.

One of Tang’s former workmate at Yahoo! Singapore described him to inSing News as a “nerd” and that he “seemed like a very decent fellow”.

Full report: Ex-workmates reveal more about sex-ring men


Lee Lip Hong- former principal of Pei Chun Public School

Lee pleaded guilty to two charges of paying $500 on each of the two occasions of sex with the girl.

He is a married father of one.

He allegedly had sex with the girl at Hotel 81 Bencoolen on 26 September and 14 December in 2010.

A former colleague said Lee was a “quiet and extremely proper” man.

(Read report here)

Howard Shaw- former Singapore Environment Council head

Shaw allegedly paid the girl $500 for sex on 30 October 2010 at Hotel 81 Bencoolen, according to various sources.

A business associate who has known Shaw for a few years said he is a “good man and one of the best environmentalist.”

He is the grandson of Shaw Organisation founder Runme Shaw.

Full report: 4 more charged in online sex ring case

Juerg Buergin- former executive director of operations in UBS Investment Bank

It was reported that Buergin had sex with the girl at Shangri-La Hotel on Sept 29, 2010.

The second encounter took place at Mandarin Oriental Hotel on Jan 3 2011.

He has a daughter in Switzerland.

(Read report here)


Chua Ren Cheng- former River Valley High School teacher

He was also a grassroots leader.

(Read report here)


Latest Updates

Ex- principal of Pei Chun Public School Lee Lip Hong has been sentenced to nine weeks jail for the offence.

Full report: Ex-principal gets 9 weeks jail for paid sex with minor

Former River Valley High School teacher Chua Ren Cheng was back in court on Wednesday 25 April for the second mention of his case.

The next hearing for Howard Shaw is 18 June.

The next hearing for Juerg Buergin is 18 June.

Reyner Desvando Suhartono, an Indonesian businessman, was granted permission to leave Singapore to get married back home. Suhartono had made arrangements for his 2 June wedding as far back as November 2011 before the authorities called him up. He will be away two periods – from 20April to 29 April and from 16 May to 6 June.

Full report: Indonesian suspect in online vice ring case allowed to leave S’pore


The court will in due course examine if Tang Boon Thiew has the immoral intent to possibly be the mastermind of the online sex ring.

14 out of the 62 men are still being investigated.

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