A Singaporean who filmed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s son Li Yipeng as he gave him a ride in his car was sentenced to a S$900 fine today (14 Nov) for using a mobile phone while driving. The 32-year-old was also banned from driving for a period of eight months for the offence.
The court heard that Andrew Sim Kay Yon spotted 36-year-old Li at a taxi stand on 15 March this year and recognised him as PM Lee’s son. Sim pulled up near Li and offered him a ride in his private car. Li accepted and gave his address to Sim.
During the car ride, Sim filmed Li on four occasions between 3.54pm and 4.04pm during the drive from Esplanade to Rochalie Drive, without Li’s knowledge or permission. Sim held his phone in one hand while steering the car with the other hand to film Li.
In the videos, that were subsequently circulated on social media, Sim can be heard repeatedly asking Li to confirm his identity, residential address and security arrangements. In a statement released on 17 March, the Singapore Police Force had said that the invasive questions raised “serious security concerns, given Mr Li’s background.”
In one video that was taken during the car ride, Sim questioned Li about his name and destination before asking, “So your dad is the Prime Minister of Singapore? You don’t have a driver with you?”
Li can be heard telling Sim “I don’t feel comfortable telling you about my current home life…I just don’t think it’s appropriate,” in another clip. Sim reportedly also asked Li about his estranged uncle, Lee Hsien Yang. He asked Li, “Have you seen your uncle recently Lee Hsien Yang?” to which Li replied, “No.”
As the videos went viral online, PM Lee’s press secretary Chang Li Lin issued a statement revealing that PM Lee is aware of the videos. She said: “It is of concern that a vulnerable person can be taken advantage of like this. Yipeng happens to be PM’s son, but many other vulnerable persons go about Singapore on their own, and they must be able to do so safely, without being taken advantage of or harassed and without their privacy being breached.”
PM Lee declined to comment further, since the police investigations were ongoing, but thanked the public who expressed concern over the matter.
The police also revealed that the driver has had previous run-ins with the law and was previously convicted of taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent and sentenced in 2014. Sim had also been involved in a theft-in-dwelling case and had a police report lodged against him for a criminal intimidation case sometime prior to March this year.
According to Yahoo Singapore, the court heard today that Sim also had a number of traffic offences to his name between August 2006 and April 2018 including careless driving, illegal U-turn, failure to wear a seat-belt, speeding and beating a red light. Most of these offences were compounded.
Sim’s defense lawyer, Josephus Tan, told District Judge Lorraine Ho during mitigation that Sim had offered the ride to Li as an “act of a good Samaritan” but the judge responded, “I’m not so sure that is an act of a good Samaritan.”
Mr Tan further said that his client did not intend to upload the video and that he had only sent the video to his close group of friends who then uploaded it online but Judge Ho responded, “I’m sure if he sent it to his friends, he can’t be sure they won’t circulate it.”