The act of arson of a 26-year old man led to several Singapore flags catching fire at the block of flats along Woodlands Crescent.
While heavily intoxicated, one Elson Ong Yong Liang set fire to a Singapore flag hanging along the corridor of his HDB block. Remnants of the burning flag fell, leading to seven other flags hung at lower floors getting damaged.
He was sentenced to 16 weeks of jail on Monday (July 27), after pleading guilty about a week ago to one count of mischief by fire.
Mr Ong went drinking at a pub along Selegie Road on Aug 3 last year, a few days before National Day on Aug 9.
After reaching his block at about 6 am the next day from his night out, he lit a cigarette on the 13th floor of the block.
When he noticed a Singapore flag hung along the outer walls of the block, he subsequently decided to set it on fire with his lighter.
Several hours later around noon, a 48-year-old man residing in the unit near where Mr Ong had stood smoking called the police to report the burnt flag.
Mr Ong’s lawyer, Mr Gino Hardial Singh, said that during his teenage years Mr Ong had developed a habit of burning paper when stressed. He was known to gather flyers at void decks of public housing blocks and burn them in incense bins or grass patches.
A psychiatrist noted that this was a “mild adaptive coping mechanism” to stress.
Court documents showed that Mr Ong had set fire to newspapers outside another flat on April 4 last year, which destroyed the newspapers, a cupboard and fuse box.
On another occasion, Mr Ong also placed his lighter against a metal barricade at a lift lobby causing a construction sign sticker pasted on the barricade to catch fire.
Mr Gino, who asked for three months’ jail instead of the prosecution’s six months, said that Mr Ong had learned his lesson and “is now on the right path”.
Mr Ong could have been jailed up to seven years and fined. /TISG
Send in your scoop to firstname.lastname@example.org