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Judicial CP - October 2006

Corpun file 18468

Straits Times, Singapore, 6 October 2006

Robber targeted old women, stabbed cops

Man jailed 8 years, gets 24 strokes of cane

By Elena Chong

ARMED WITH KNIFE: See robbed two elderly women in HDB lifts.

A ROBBER who preyed on elderly women, cornering them in HDB lifts, was yesterday sentenced to 24 strokes of the cane and eight years behind bars with no possibility of an early release.

See Ah Pheng, 42, had pleaded for a light sentence, but District Judge Tan Puay Boon said people like him should undergo corrective training.

Corrective training aims to turn an offender away from a life of crime by putting him through a strict discipline regime.

See, who had drug-related convictions in the 1990s, pleaded guilty last month to committing two armed robberies in June and stabbing a police officer on the right forearm on July 5.

A fourth charge of stabbing another officer in the thigh was considered during sentencing.

The court heard that on June 17, See left his home to have breakfast at Boon Lay bus interchange. He was also looking for a victim to rob.

He noticed Chinese national Cui Zi Bin, 60, and her granddaughter at the ground floor of a block of flats in Jurong West Street 65.

He followed them into a lift and grabbed Madam Cui's $880 gold chain and $600 jade pendant.

Madam Cui struggled initially, but See whipped out a fruit knife and threatened to harm the child.

Madam Cui gave in and See used the knife to break the chain.

Two days later, he pawned the pendant for $80 and sold the chain for $230.

On June 29, he struck again.

He trailed Madam Khoo Toh Sooh, 59, to Block 660D, Jurong West Street 64, and followed her into a lift.

He took out the fruit knife from his shirt pocket and brandished it, saying 'robbery, robbery' in Mandarin.

He snatched Madam Khoo's $800 gold chain and pendant and cut the strap of her sling bag, taking the $40 inside.

He later sold the gold chain and pendant for $480.

He used part of the money from both robberies to bet on horses.

On July 5, Sergeant Chng Chee Wei, 27, and a colleague were patrolling Jurong West Street 64 when they saw See following an elderly woman at a pedestrian walkway at Block 662C.

See noticed the officers and turned away, unlocking a red bicycle at the lift lobby.

But the officers stopped See, who handed over his identity card to Sgt Chng's colleague for inspection.

Suddenly, See took out his fruit knife and stabbed Sgt Chng in his right forearm and his colleague in the thigh before fleeing towards Block 659.

See was arrested at Edgefield Plains, Punggol, the next day.

Corpun file 18529 (Cable News Network), USA, 18 October 2006

Singapore's judges sparing the rod

court buildingsSINGAPORE (AP) -- Singapore's legal system is renowned for harsh penalties such as caning and the death penalty for some drug crimes, but judges are trying to inject a dose of compassion into some rulings.

One beneficiary of the new trend is Ridzuan Mohamad Hanafi, a 20-year-old Singaporean who faced at least five years in jail and five strokes of the cane for trafficking in the synthetic drug Ecstasy. Instead, to his shock, he was sentenced this month to two years' probation and 150 hours of community service.

"The courts are ever more so willing to look at the spectrum of options available to them to find what is best for each individual young offender," said Wendell Wong, Ridzuan's defense counsel. He speculated that the judge acted on a probation officer's report that said the first-time offender showed potential for rehabilitation. Prosecutors have appealed the ruling.

The case reflects Singapore's efforts to tinker with strict policies and rules that its leaders say are a hallmark of its success as one of the most secure, modern places in Asia. They acknowledge the need for change, though not at the pace that some international critics would like.

The new chief justice, Chan Sek Keong, wants to give judges more room to use alternatives to harsh punishments, with the goal of rehabilitation in mind. The government supports the changes.

"The current guidelines that have been put forward are outdated," said Subhas Anandan, president of Singapore's Association of Criminal Lawyers.

"They do not give the judge alternatives," he said. "Everything is jail, or jail plus caning. There must be alternative sentencing options like community service, or probation, or probation with a lot of strings attached to it."

Singapore's tough laws have sometimes triggered international anger, most recently when a 25-year-old Vietnam-born Australian was executed for heroin trafficking last year. The death penalty is mandatory for armed robbery and some drug trafficking offences.

In 1994, an American teenager found guilty of vandalizing cars with spray-paint, and was caned despite appeals for leniency by U.S. President Bill Clinton.

Singapore threatened to cane any violent protesters when it hosted the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in September. The gathering was peaceful.

Singapore was once an unruly place, particularly in the years leading up to independence in 1965 and the early years of nationhood, when gang violence was common and the Malay and Chinese communities sometimes clashed. Authorities have kept crime low in the past few decades, and many Singaporeans support tough justice.

The legal system is derived from British law, but Singapore has introduced its own traditions. Trial by jury was abolished in the 1970s. Offenders appealing for leniency have sometimes had their sentences increased.

The country still uses the colonial-era Internal Security Act, which allows for arrest without charge and indefinite detention without trial. However, some members of the al Qaeda-linked militant group Jemaah Islamiyah were released after it was determined that they were responding well to rehabilitation. Restrictions on free speech and assembly are among the toughest in Asia.


Chan, the chief justice, says courts should place more emphasis on rehabilitating criminals, as well as deterring them, and is reviewing sentencing guidelines for serious crimes.

He has set up a special "community court" for certain offenses for which judges may decide to impose probation, counseling and community service, either in combination with or in place of jail, caning and fines.

The "community court" hears cases such as those involving 16- to 18-year-olds, people with mental disabilities, disputes among neighbors, suicide attempts, family violence and animal cruelty.

"Concern has been expressed on our sentencing practices with respect to consistency and proportionality," Chan said in April after he was appointed to the post. "It is essential to maintain public confidence that while the courts will continue with the policy of dealing firmly with criminals, the punishments imposed should fit the crimes."

The Supreme Court said the chief justice did not speak to the media as a matter of policy.

There is no sign that Singapore is going soft on crime, but judges already appear to have deemed some offenders fit for rehabilitation.

In recent months, an 18-year-old girl was sentenced to two years' probation instead of jail for multiple charges of counterfeiting currency, and a woman's 33-month jail term for seven counts of credit card fraud was reduced to probation.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

2006 Cable News Network LP, LLLP. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.

Corpun file 18540

Straits Times, Singapore, 23 October 2006

Slip of the tongue exposes 2nd-time illegal

A BANGLADESHI holding a passport with a fake identity nearly got away with a second offence of being here illegally, until he gave away his real name and was found out.

Abul Jaffor, 26, then found his punishment increased from a $500 fine - for trespassing - to 14 months in jail and five strokes of the cane.

He was originally deported and barred from entering Singapore after he was arrested in November 2003 for not having the papers to be here.

He returned to Singapore on June 17 last year on a social visit pass using a new passport under a false identity.

He then found employment illegally as a general shipyard worker.

On Oct 1 this year, at about 3am, he sneaked into the old disused Changkat Changi Secondary School to sleep. Security guards were alerted to the trespass by the barking of the guard dogs.

Abul was fined $500 for trespassing but served five days in jail as he could not pay up.

On Oct 6, as Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officers were making arrangements to deport him, a nervous Abul let slip his real name when he was asked.

Suspicious, officers interrogated him further and checked his fingerprints against their biometric database.

With his real identity exposed, Abul was not deported but sent back to jail for 14 months. He was also ordered to be given five strokes of the cane.

For entering Singapore without a valid pass, he could have been jailed for up to six months and received at least three strokes of the cane or be fined a maximum of $6,000.

For re-entering Singapore without ICA's permission after being barred from entry, he could have been jailed between one and three years and fined up to $6,000.

As for obtaining a social visit pass without declaring he had been barred from entry into Singapore, he could have been jailed for up to a year or fined up to $4,000 or both.

Copyright 2006 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.

Corpun file 18552

Straits Times, Singapore, 24 October 2006

Serial offender gets 7 years and 6 strokes

By Chong Chee Kin

30-YEAR CRIMINAL RECORD: Tan had been in and out of jail for a string of offences. His latest crime: Breaking into a clinic to steal a laptop and sedatives.

FOR nearly 30 years, Andrew Tan Siew Kwong had been in and out of jail for a string of offences, from theft to robbery to assault.

Yesterday, the 48-year-old drug addict was sentenced to seven years' corrective training - which offers no chance of early release - after admitting to his latest crimes of robbery and housebreaking.

Tan was also ordered to be caned six strokes of the rotan.

A district court heard he had tried to stab himself in the neck with a broken toothbrush after his arrest.

Tan broke into a clinic in Toa Payoh on June 20. He made off with a laptop worth $1,199 as well as an assortment of sedatives such as Valium and Dormicum.

He was arrested the following day while peddling sedatives illegally from his flat in Toa Payoh, a block away from the clinic.

Investigations also revealed that Tan was responsible for a robbery at a supermarket in Toa Payoh on Nov 4 last year.

Armed with a knife, he filled a shopping basket with groceries and newspapers, and walked out without paying.

When security officer Leong Hin Juat stopped him outside the supermarket, Tan punched him. In the scuffle, his knife fell to the ground. Tan picked it up and brandished it at the security officer before fleeing.

Yesterday, defence lawyer Patrick Tan urged the court to be lenient, saying that Tan had been unemployed for over a year. He had tried to find a job but could not because of his previous convictions, which started in 1979.

The lawyer also told the court that Tan suffered from depression, was addicted to sedatives and had been admitted to Woodbridge Hospital on eight occasions.

The father of two sons, aged 13 and 28, broke into the clinic 'in a moment of folly and out of love for his younger son', said the lawyer.

Mr Tan said: 'He had promised his son that he would get him a computer if he passed his PSLE. The son did, but he had no means to get the computer.'

Tan could have been jailed for up to 10 years.

Corpun file 18551

Straits Times, Singapore, 28 October 2006

First two Subutex abusers jailed

Pair with previous drug arrests are first Subutex offenders to receive long-term imprisonment

TWO Subutex abusers became the first to receive long-term jail terms on Thursday - they had two prior drug arrests, for which they were sent for rehabilitation.

Zubaidah Mohamed Yunos, 36, was jailed for seven-and-a-half years. Her partner Narayanan Haridas, 35, was jailed for seven years and given six strokes of the cane.

Central Narcotics Bureau officers arrested them at a hotel in Geylang on Oct 3.

Zubaidah pleaded guilty to consuming Subutex and for failing to turn up for her urine tests.

Haridas was found guilty of buprenorphine consumption and having a utensil to consume the controlled drug.

Buprenorphine is Subutex's active ingredient.

Since Oct 1, Subutex abusers with two previous records of drug consumption can be sentenced to long-term imprisonment. This is when a jail term of at least five years - and three strokes of the cane for male offenders - are imposed.

Such third-time abusers, on conviction, face a maximum of seven years' in jail and six strokes of the cane.

Recalcitrant offenders may get up to 13 years and caning of up to 12 strokes.

The Government made the law dealing with Subutex abuse tougher after the substance became a controlled drug on Aug 14. It is illegal to consume, possess, import or sell Subutex.

The drug was introduced here in 2002, and was meant to help ex-heroin addicts, but rampant abuse resulted instead.

Copyright 2006 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.

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