71-year-old Gan Thian Soo received three charges of assault, harassment and causing public nuisance for hitting and verbally abusing a 25-year-old American expatriate on a public train last April.
The case became viral last year after the victim, Joe DeMarini, uploaded a video online on 19 April which showed the 70-year-old man assaulting him and asking him for sex.
The old man had initially boarded the train at Chinatown MRT station with a friend and they sat in the middle of a carriage. Later, DeMarini noticed that the man was sitting on a priority seat and trying to talk to a woman seated next to him. After the woman moved away, the man walked towards the American and stood in front of him.
His first words to DeMarini were, “I like you”. Demarini had said in his earlier post that the 70-year-old approached him when he was with a friend and that he appeared drunk. According to DeMarini, the old man allegedly said: “he was gay, and that he wanted to fuck me. He said, “I know you’re gay, so let’s fuck.””
Hey Singapore friends: just a heads up, this guy physically assaulted me on the MRT, so if you ever see him, be on your guard. I was with a friend and he approached me–drunk–and said he was gay, and that he wanted to fuck me. He said, "I know you're gay, so let's fuck."This went on for several minutes and I tried to politely diffuse the situation, but then he began to yell at my friend when she intervened; I wouldn't let this stand, and started to become angry myself. He threatened her, and some other people on the train intervened (several were filming). He touched me, and I told him not to, and I briefly lost my temper–after that he slapped me on the side of the head. He kept going on and on, and when a woman tried to take his picture, he attempted to kick her phone out of her hand. When my friend and I got off at our stop, he got off as well, but we managed to evade him and leave the station without him following us.For those of you that don't know: I'm not gay (not that it should matter). However, I don't exactly fit the "masculine" mold of society, so oftentimes I am mistaken as queer–on several occasions around the world, for example, I've caught flak for carrying a "man purse." On a personal level, this is why I need feminism: so I can be confident in myself and not feel like I have to fulfill any gender role assigned to me. However, I do appreciate that women probably have to deal with this shit (or at least the threat of it) on a fairly regular basis.For those asking "Why didn't you fight back or call the police?" I say, "I am a white immigrant in a country where I do not have citizenship and am a minority–law enforcement may not take my side, despite video and photo evidence." This is something I learned while living in South Korea, where no amount of assimilation will protect you when a Korean is arguing against you. In this situation, there's a chance I would've been accused of inciting violence, and been charged accordingly.I feel pretty awful about this–it's after 2:30 in the morning and I can't sleep; I can't even bring myself to watch the video. Is that normal? In a sick sense, I feel lucky to have this recorded: it's proof! And others have recorded it as well! Some people would die for that kind of evidence!Yet here I am, too embarrassed and too ashamed to watch it.A slap on the head is nothing, really, but I feel completely unsettled–Singapore has been a trial by fire since my first day, and this doesn't help. In all honesty, I'm a bit tipsy and have no idea what I'm feeling.I wish I'd said thank you to the train people who took a stand and put themselves between me and this man, but I was too rattled to muster it (at least I could thank my friend, who had the good sense to make a video). I wish I'd sat in a different train car, and the whole situation could've been avoided. Was it the V-neck I was wearing? My ripped skinny jeans? I probably should have held my temper, but that's not my character. Could I have found a way to peacefully diffuse the whole situation? It's obviously not my fault but, somehow, a part of me is convinced it was.Anyway, I have work in the morning, so the only thing to do is press on (or at least try to get some sleep). I've accomplished more in a few years than I could've ever imagined, and I've met so many amazing and supportive people along the way–I can't really let the few bastards of the world stop me, can I?
Posted by Joe DeMarini on Wednesday, 19 April 2017
De Marini lodged a complaint with the Police about the incident on 21 April at 3.59pm. The Police said that they later established the man’s identity and arrested him along Ang Mo Kio Ave 1 on the same day at about 10pm.
The 71-year-old man who was first identified as Mr Gan by the Chinese daily said that he is blind in one eye and can only see through his left. He said that he don’t remember the argument was what he said, but he has since seen the video.
“That day I thought I saw him (DeMarini) make some strange gay-like gestures at me and it made me feel uncomfortable,” he said.
Gan said he only wanted to tell DeMarini to stop what he was doing, but he suffered an anxiety attack when he confronted him. The anxiety and drunkenness caused him to act in the manner that he did, said the old man.
Gan said that he did not want to have sex with the American on the train. He has been seeing a psychiatrist for depression for about 2 years and is on medication. But 2 weeks before the incident in the train, his condition took a turn for the worse due to family problems.
“I’m already 70 over years old, and don’t have the energy to quarrel with young people?” he added.
In court yesterday, the judge allowed Gan to be remanded at the Institute of Mental Health for two weeks for a psychiatric evaluation, as per the prosecution’s request. Gan will return to court on 1 Dec.