Singapore—Forty-two-year-old Tamang Dawa, a visiting monk from Nepal, pleaded guilty on September 24, Tuesday, to one count of molestation of a female vendor in Geylang on July 11 of this year.
He has been sentenced to five months in jail.
Mr Dawa came to the country to renew his travel visa on July 6, as he had planned on going to Taiwan to worship. Five days later, around half an hour before midnight on July 11, he passed by a woman who was selling her wares at a temporary stall on Geylang Road.
Hoping that he would buy some of her wares, she signaled Mr Dawa to approach so she could show him the items for sale. As they conversed while she showed him the different items on offer, he reached out and touched her right breast over her clothes.
The 28-year-old female vendor, who has remained unnamed due to a gag order, slapped the monk’s hand away from her chest and yelled loudly, getting the attention of an individual who was walking by, who then asked her what had happened.
Mr Dawa, who had walked away from the scene, was caught by two people who had heard the woman vendor yelling. They brought him back to the woman.
The court heard that the monk then offered to compensate the woman and apologised for what he had done, but she refused to take the money.
The monk said that he had just come from drinking 6 glasses of beer at an eatery close to the woman’s makeshift stall.
He was arrested by two police officers in the vicinity.
According to Josephus Tan and Cory Wong of Invictus Law, the defense lawyers on the case, the monk had only made “fleeting contact’ with the woman’s breast and therefore he should not get more than five months of jail time.
They said that the monk had no previous record of offenses and that the incident was “wholly out of character”, with “no evidence to suggest a pattern of deviant sexual offending”.
Mr Tan added, “Dawa is a travelling monk who often comes to Singapore to read scriptures at the various Buddhist temples here. This is part of his pilgrimage. Dawa therefore sincerely regrets his actions which took place nearby to the temple that he was then residing at.
He has since rebuked himself for bringing disgrace to his Nepalese master monk and to all that he stands for and reads. That said, Dawa certainly did not come to Singapore or go out of his way just for the purpose of committing sexual crimes.”
Jasvender Kaur, the District Judge on the case, assented to the defence’s submissions and said she considered the “brief nature of the intrusion” in addition to the monk’s early guilty plea.
Mr Dawa could have received a maximum jail sentence of five years, a fine or caning, or a combination of all three due to the offense of using criminal force on the woman intending to outrage her modesty, Channel NewsAsia (CNA) reports.
The monk, who has been in custody since the incident, said via an interpreter to the court, “It’s my mistake and I understand the consequences,” and wept when his jail sentence was read. -/TISG