Tag Archives: rotan

Little India riot: Second man sentenced to 33 months’ jail and three strokes

A former construction worker, the second man to plead guilty to rioting during the melee in Little India last December, was this afternoon (May 15) sentenced to 33 months’ jail and three strokes of the cane. Arumugam Karthik, a 25-year-old Indian national, had thrown projectiles at three police vehicles and one fire engine, and flipped over the three police cars. He also set fire to one of the police vehicles. The riot, the worst outbreak of violence in Singapore in more than 40 years, was sparked off by a fatal bus accident involving another Indian national, Sakthivel Kumaravelu.

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His lawyer M. Ravi is challenging the constitutionality of caning, in particular, the manner in which the punishment is carried out. Mr Ravi is arguing that the way caning is implemented in the prisons "takes it out of the realm of acceptable punishment and into the realm of torture". He says the "severity of the strikes and intensity of the pain" is evidenced by the fact that women, men aged over 50 and boys under 16 cannot be caned.Also, doctors have to be present when prisoners are caned. Mr Ravi is also arguing that Yong is being made to suffer a greater punishment than was prescribed by law at the time of his offence.

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Perhaps the penalties should be reviewed, as a jail term and relatively low fines appear to no longer be a deterrent. Living standards have improved over the years and those convicted of such offences may consider the financial penalties a pittance. And those who cannot pay may not mind doing time, which is a waste of our resources. It may be timely for the authorities to consider including mandatory caning in the penalty, as is the case for illegal immigrants. This would send the right signal that the law means business.

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