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The Straits Times, Asia One
By Khushwant Singh
Sun, Apr 11, 2010
THE man at the centre of allegations in an ongoing coroner’s inquiry yesterday denied supplying prescription drugs to a 20-year-old American who died last year from a reaction to a mixture of drugs and alcohol.
Mr Jason Ho Zhi Yuan, 29, testified that he had ‘no clue’ why Mr Scott Jared Monat’s friends told the police that he had plied the American with drugs in return for sexual favours.
‘I’m not gay and I don’t do drugs,’ said Mr Ho, who has been a finance manager in Singapore since 2008, following a 10-year stay in New York.
The Buddhist also denied claiming to be Jewish and speaking Yiddish so as to get close to Mr Monat, who was a Jew.
Mr Ho, who was in Mr Monat’s hostel room at the National University of Singapore on March 4, took the court through the exchange student’s last hours.
Mr Ho said that when he entered the student’s room at the Prince George’s Park Residences hostel just before 11pm, the American was popping pills and drinking either beer or gin. The room was vomit- stained. He said it was the third time he had seen Mr Monat taking pills, and that the student had told him he was on them for his panic attacks.
They left the hostel room later and Mr Ho bought beer and cigarettes for his friend, who told him he was depressed as his parents were getting a divorce and his pet dog back home had been put down.
Mr Monat continued drinking heavily, said Mr Ho, who added that he avoided alcohol as it worsened his gout.
On their way back to the hostel room, Mr Monat had difficulty urinating, the court heard. Back in the room, he lay down at about 4am, but when he had difficulty breathing an hour later, Mr Ho raised the alarm.
Hostel residents and later, paramedics, tried to revive the American, but he died at the nearby National University Hospital.
The autopsy revealed that he had taken a cocktail of Xanax tranquillisers, the anti-depressant Sertraline, the painkiller OxyContin, insomnia medicine Ambien and gamma hydroxbutrate or GHB, a drug which whips up euphoria and dampens inhibitions.
A forensic pathologist told the court that these drugs, when combined with alcohol, can cause sudden heart failure.
Mr Ho testified that Mr Monat brought the drugs back after a trip to Bangkok in February with their mutual friend Yong Xunkai, 24, a student at the Nanyang Technological University.
Mr Yong, who took the stand on Monday, had told the court that Mr Ho was Mr Monat’s drug supplier.
Mr Ho also told the court he did not know why Ms Gal Parelman, a 23-year-old American exchange student, told the police he had given her an Ambien pill.
He denied telling another student, Ms Patra Vongsoasup, 21, that he had ‘feelings’ for Mr Monat.
State counsel Isaac Tan produced photographs showing Mr Monat posing with a bare-bodied Mr Ho on a hotel bed, but the Singaporean insisted there was nothing sexual about it.
Questioned by Mr Monat’s father Richard, Mr Ho denied spiking the young man’s drink with GHB; he also denied ever having bought alcohol for the young American except for the beer on the day of his death, and claimed that an earlier text message about getting drinks from a ‘liquor store’ referred to buying soft drinks from a 7-Eleven outlet.
The investigating officer takes the stand today.