IS THERE CONSISTENCY IN SINGAPORE’S LAWS?

On 3 Oct 2014, 18 year-old Daryl Lim Jun Liang assaulted a Chinese foreign worker and left the man with a bloodied face. He was trying to hone his fighting skills by picking fights with foreign workers who were shorter and smaller.

Lim, who was invloved in at least 4 such incidents between September and Octorber last year, was sentenced to detention order of 10 days and 150 hours of community service. Lim’s case even prompted Law Minister K Shanmugam to criticise his actions as “completely unacceptable” and “sickening conduct”.

Although I am not a supporter of the actions of Neo Gim Huah, but I am puzzled as to why the police, state prosecution and judges seem to have no sense of proportionate justice. Can they just pick and choose what they want to see?

As we all know, Neo slapped the brave LKY critic and blogger Amos Yee once very hard across the face in front of the state courts and TV cameras. For that, he was charged with voluntarily causing grevious hurt, which is the same charge as Daryl Lim, and sentenced to 3 weeks’ jail. More than double the sentence as compared to Daryl Lim.

I really wonder how is that fair and proportionate? Is the judge or government trying too hard to say that they are not bias? Is a slap more serious than beating up foreign workers 4 times?

Another example, in Dec 2007, communications manager K M Ho was punched in the face and slammed twice by an American Navy sailor, which left him with stitches and internal bleeding. The sailor was drunk and although he was arrested by the police, they did not prosecute him and in fact let him go without any consequences.

Around the same period, a man had four teeth knocked off by a stranger in the void deck of a Bishan flat and all police did was to take down the particulars of the parties involved and let the assailant go. The police advised the victim that if he wanted to pursue the case, he should lodge a Magistrate Complaint.

I did a check with friends who have gotten into fights, and indeed they verified that if you ever get into an altercation with someone in a mall or in a pub and a fight broke out, the police would just jot down the particulars (if they ever get there) of parties involved and bungle themselves back into their comfy patrol cars. Even if blood was spilled. If you want, you can pursue, but the police ain’t getting involved. So why this inconsistency today? Can our police force or the learned state prosecution explain the fine legal points?

It would appear on this funny little island of ours that if you scratch a car, you will get jailed and caned for vandalism, but if you break someone’s nose you just might get away with it; depending on whose nose and if the TV crew is around.

ASS columnist
Thiru Sivalingam

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