71 YR OLD RAG & BONE MAN JAILED 4 WEEKS FOR ANTI-CPF VANDALISM AT BUS STOPS

An elderly man who used an indelible black marker to deface public and private property — by scribbling words that appeared to be in support of blogger Roy Ngerng — was yesterday sentenced to four weeks’ jail.

Loh Thiam Hock, 71, was originally charged with vandalism, but had his charges amended to mischief.

The State Courts heard yesterday that Loh had read a newspaper article relating to the Central Provident Fund (CPF) on May 21.

He decided to go on a writing spree, scribbling indiscriminately on private and public property, such as the advertisement boards of bus stops and an electrical box in the Clarke Quay area, from about 2.35pm to 7pm on May 22.

He had used the black marker to write phrases such as “We support CPF Blogger, Return our CPF Money R/AC & M A/C, Above 65 yrs Bal $5000 in M/AC” (sic).

Mr Ngerng is currently being sued for defamation by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The suit arose from a blog post by Mr Ngerng last month where he alleged misappropriation of CPF monies.

In mitigation, Loh, who was unrepresented and spoke through a Hokkien interpreter, said he is unemployed and picks up tin cans as a rag-and-bone man. “I do not know why I did this on that day. I’ve already thrown the pen away because it ran out of ink,” he said, referring to the events of May 22.

“I’ve (nowhere) to reside in the past 10 years, I’ve been wandering the streets,” added Loh, who lost his mother at the age of eight.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Lai said he understood Loh’s situation, adding that the elderly man can approach family service centres for help if necessary. However, he asked for a jail term of one to three months to be imposed on Loh as the acts of mischiefs were “numerous and committed in close proximity” to the central business district, where there was high pedestrian traffic.

In sentencing, District Judge Lim Keng Yeow said he had taken note of the reports from the Institute of Mental Health and found Loh to be “fully fit”. The judge, noting that there are many lawful ways for Loh to express his thoughts, said it was unacceptable for him to deface public property.

Loh could have been jailed up to a year or fined, or both.

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