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Judicial CP - July 2006
Straits Times, Singapore, 7 July 2006
Footballer jailed for having drug and 2 bullets
By Teh Joo Lin
THE younger brother of national soccer striker Noh Alam Shah was yesterday sentenced to jail, his footballing dreams in tatters.
Muhammad Noor Ashiq Kamarezaman, 24, got a five-year jail term
and six strokes of the cane for possessing 58.28g of a cannabis
mixture meant for trafficking, and another year for keeping two
5.56mm calibre bullets.
In April, he was caught in a Grange Road carpark with three
blocks of vegetable matter, later found to be a cannabis mixture.
The bullets were not of a local make, and were the type used
A urine test later revealed that he had consumed a cannabis
In mitigation, his lawyer R. Gupta described how his client -
who plays for the Eunos Crescent Football Club - had found the
ammunition almost 10 years ago, while playing soccer.
After he had entered national service, he became 'mindful'
about disposing the bullets, lest students from the two schools
near his family's home found them.
District judge Wong Keen Onn said he had taken into account
the mitigation plea, but added that Noor Ashiq - as someone who
had gone through national service - would have known that the
bullets were dangerous.
Copyright © 2006 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.
Straits Times, Singapore, 11 July 2006
Worker pursued maid and molested her twice
By Elena Chong
JAILED: Aman, 37, will spend 18 months in jail and get eight strokes of the cane.
A BANGLADESHI construction worker was jailed yesterday for molesting an Indonesian maid twice in a fortnight after following her from the supermarket.
The 30-year-old was first molested on May 15 at about 8pm by Aman Ullah Mollah Khorshed Ali, 37, who had followed her from Cold Storage at Rail Mall along Upper Bukit Timah Road.
He approached her from her left and tried to pull her hand but she managed to avoid him and continued walking. He then sneaked up from behind and pulled her left hand, forcing her to turn around to face him.
He then kissed her on the cheek, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Crystal Ong.
The victim tried to stop him by raising
her arms to cover her face. He then squeezed her breasts.
He then molested her.
The victim pushed him away and tried to fend him off by hitting him with her plastic bag. He leaned forward and tried to kiss her again but she shielded her face with her hands.
But she fell down as they struggled - and Aman touched her private parts. She pulled up her shorts and kneed him in his crotch, crying throughout the incident.
She then stood up and ran but Aman grabbed her from behind and tried to kiss her again.
She broke free and called out to a man
for help, saying a Bangladeshi had disturbed her. Just then, a
couple approached them and the first man asked Mr Sylvester Er,
40, to take the victim home.
Yesterday, Aman was sentenced to 18 months' jail and eight strokes of the cane after pleading guilty to two counts of molestation. A third charge was taken into consideration.
Copyright © 2006 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. Regn No. 198402868E
Straits Times, Singapore, 28 July 2006
M-cyclist who bashed elderly driver gets jail and cane
By Elena Chong and Tanya Fong
A MOTORCYCLIST was sentenced to five years of corrective training and three strokes of the cane yesterday for a fit of road rage in which he attacked an elderly lorry driver, who died of a heart attack shortly afterwards.
Chee Tat Fatt, a 47-year-old odd-job labourer, viciously assaulted 72-year-old Mr Hea Song Chye on Jan 15, punching him in the face and beating him on the head with his motorcycle helmet in a multi-storey carpark in Upper Cross Street.
Mr Hea and his wife had just returned from a street show and were only minutes away from home.
Chee became enraged after Mr Hea signalled wrongly, causing him to brake suddenly.
When he saw the lorry had stopped, Chee also stopped, got off his motorbike, then approached Mr Hea and began arguing with him. He punched the elderly man twice in the face through the open window, then opened the lorry door and dragged him out.
Mr Hea's wife, 64-year-old Madam Ng Nguan Cheng, who was with
her husband in the lorry, tried to intervene, but she too was
Chee was originally charged with causing the death of Mr Hea.
But he pleaded guilty last month after the charge was reduced to
one of causing hurt.
Last night, widow Madam Ng broke down several times as she
recalled what had happened.
Said their daughter, Madam Mary Hea, 40: 'There are days my
mother goes to the market and still buys my father's share of
Sunday Star, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 30 July 2006
Insight Down South
Courts adopting a softer touch
By Seah Chiang Nee
Singapore's courts, renowned for their tough laws and strict sentencing, have been showing a softer, more humane, touch when dealing with young Singaporeans who break the law.
It may be a little early to declare that a major transition of the judiciary is under way, and in fact, the republic will not relax its punishment of serious crime – including hanging and caning – any time soon.
But on several instances in recent weeks, the courts have pulled back from sending youths to prison and instead gave them probation, a second chance or just a warning to avoid scarring their lives.
This coincides with a programme called “Yellow Ribbons” to help released prisoners get jobs and return to a normal life.
This is a departure from past norms when courts took a tough stance to ensure social stability.
Recent exceptions included:
* An 18-year-old girl shed tears of relief when she was given two years' probation, instead of a jail term, for multiple counts of counterfeiting currency and using fake S$50 bills.
* A polytechnic student, whose mother was jailed for maid abuse, was given another chance by a district judge who placed her on probation for similar offences.
* The High Court judge reduced a woman's 33-month jail term to probation for seven credit card fraud charges because of a sanguine probation report that she deserves another chance.
* A Singaporean blogger has received a stern warning but escaped imprisonment for Sedition after posting cartoons mocking Jesus Christ on his online journal, instead of a possible three years' jail and/or S$5,000 fine.
It is not known if they were mere coincidence or the result of a new government policy or the doings of Singapore's new Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong, who replaced tough-minded Yong Pung How in April this year.
Yong, a long-time friend of Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew (they are said to share many views), was known to be very firm on the use of punishment as a deterrent to crime.
Although some Singaporeans found Yong's sentencing too harsh, it nevertheless gained fans among Singaporean heartlanders when he cracked down hard on recalcitrant or violent criminals, rapists or drug offenders.
To a large extent, it has helped create today's law-and-order environment that has drawn accolades from locals and occasionally even Westerners.
Recently, New Zealander Peter Jenkins, who operated the Sensible Sentencing Trust website, wrote about his visit to Singapore's lower courts.
“I witnessed a sentencing session where 20 offenders were dispatched in the space of less than an hour,” he said.
The sentences were very much tougher than in New Zealand, he added, giving the following examples:
1. Shoplifting goods to the value of S$45 – three months.
2. Four assaults (30 months each) to be served consecutively not concurrently as would have been in New Zealand, making a total of 90 months or over seven-and-a-half years.
3. A sexual assault – 10 years.
4. A number of other offenders – shoplifting and other relatively minor charges plus some with drugs charges – were also sentenced for sentences ranging from six weeks or more (for a first offender).
A repeat offender who stole numerous ATM cards and withdrew S$25,000 from them was jailed for eight years. Punishment for rape is not less than eight years, not more than 20, plus at least 12 strokes of the cane, he observed.
A man with previous convictions for armed robbery and housebreaking who vandalised a welfare home in which he had been placed, causing S$4,000 damage, was sentenced to 42 months in jail – and eight strokes of the cane.
“Another thing I could not help but notice about the court on arrival – there were no intimidating low-lives hanging around who are often found lounging around outside NZ courts. And there was no graffiti inside or outside the court,” Jenkins added.
Singapore's new Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is restructuring the society and the judiciary will eventually reflect the change, too.
Taking a softer line against first-time juvenile offenders on less serious offences could be a start. The objective is to avoid a jail sentence that could mark their lives.
Lee is working hard to win over young Singaporeans disenchanted with “excessive” control in preparation for the next general election due in 2011.
In the recent election, many post-1965 Singaporeans turned against them, and more than half of youths recently told a survey they would emigrate if the chance arose.
The new Chief Justice is paying special attention to young offenders.
He has announced the setting up of a new Community Court that will deal with juvenile offenders (aged 16 to 18), including sex with an underage girl, family violence and neighbourhood disputes where offenders may escape prison.
Traditionally, Singaporean judges are more likely to turn an unsympathetic ear to pleas for leniency. The general perception is that individuals are responsible for their own actions.
Generally prisons are not regarded as reform centres but holding pens to keep criminals away from society. An increasing minority of Singaporeans, however, wants to see a softer handling of criminals and more emphasis on rehabilitation.
In Singapore's case, bigger prisons do mean less crime.
In Russia, some 599 people out of every 100,000 population are in jail, the world's highest ratio. Singapore, surprisingly, ranks fifth with 350 – higher than 17th place Malaysia with 141.
Besides, the relapse rate here is high; some 76% of released prisoners go back to crime.
Seah Chiang Nee is a veteran journalist and editor of the information website littlespeck.com
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