Singapore— After a district judge rejected the prosecution’s call for a custodial sentence for a university student who had molested a woman and instead handed down the decision for supervised probation for him instead, it was announced by Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam on September 27, Friday, that the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) officers disagreed with the decision and plan on filing an appeal.
Mr Shanmugam made his views public on his Facebook page, wherein he said that he was surprised with the decision giving Terence Siow Kai Wan probation as well.
The actions of Mr Siow, a 23-year-old NUS student, were described by District Judge Jasvender Kaur as “minor intrusions” and she also mentioned that Mr Siow’s academic potential showed the possibility that he would “excel in life”.
He was given 21 months of supervised probation after pleading guilty to one charge of outraging the modesty of a woman, age 28. On September 12, 2018, while on the train on the North East Line heading towards Punggol station, he touched the woman’s legs at least twice. When she got off at Serangoon station, he followed her and touched her buttocks as she was on the escalator.
She later filed a police report against him.
At his sentencing Judge Kaur said, “I think there can be no doubt that there is extremely strong propensity for reform. He was 22 years old when he committed the offences… and the nature of the acts (is) relatively minor.”
She told Mr Siow, “I have every confidence you will not re-offend and hope you don’t disappoint me.”
In response to the sentence, the victim told The New Paper (TNP) that she was “disappointed but not surprised.”
But the reaction to Mr Siow only receiving probation has not been favorable, with one netizen, Kyle Leung, who started a petition with change.org entitled, “Say NO to Favorable Sentences for “Educated” Sex Offenders.”
He wrote, “It is time to act.
It is time to take a stand against favoritism for sex offenders, just because their educational background suggests they have a bright future. (Sure, a bright future for himself and the Singapore economy, but a walking threat for everyone of the opposite gender.)”
In less than one day, almost 16,000 people signed the petition.
Mr Shanmugam, to whom the victim’s father reached out, wrote,
“There has been a fair bit of reaction to the verdict in this case. Terence Siow who molested a woman at Serangoon MRT was sentenced to probation. The victim, has also made her views clear.
I will make a few points :
1. People are entitled to express their views, unhappiness, with the verdict, and their feelings that the punishment is inadequate.
2. I can also understand how the victim and her parents must feel. The father wrote to me. Many of us ( speaking for myself as a parent), will feel the same way.
3. I was surprised, myself, with the verdict.
4. I therefore asked AGC for their views. AGC officers told me that they disagreed with the verdict and that they intend to appeal. That is consistent with my views as well.
5. I will add this: while people feel strongly about the case, we nevertheless should avoid casting aspersions personally on judge – they are doing their duty, to the best of their abilities.
We should now let the Appeal Court look at the matter.
The Courts will decide according to the law, on the facts before them.
If, after the Appeal is decided, we, as a society, still generally believe that the law should deliver a different outcome, then it is not the Courts’ fault.
It is then for Parliament to deal with that, change the law. And people know – in Singapore, the Government will move, and put legislation before Parliament to consider.”/ TISG