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Judicial CP - August 1997

Electric New Paper, Singapore, 5 August 1997

We give up

on black sheep brother

By Riana Zakir

Alone: Tan Kong Chai. Only his older brother turned up in court during his case.

Tan was sentenced to seven years' jail and 15 cane strokes. The penalty for housebreaking to steal at night is two to 14 years' jail and a fine.

THEY weren't too keen to be told what he'd been up to now. (Burglary.)

Or what he'd got. (Seven years' jail.)

Tan Kong Chai was not going to jail for the first time. And his family has just about had enough. Only his eldest brother turned up last week to lend moral support.

In fact, when The New Paper contacted another brother at home, he didn't even know Tan had been jailed again.

"We have given up hope that he'll change," said Mr Tan Kong Seng.

Tan Kong Chai, 30, the youngest of five children, is the black sheep of the family.

Armed robbery, burglary, drugs and gambling, he has done it all and landed in jail four times.

He quit school at Primary 3 to do odd-jobs because his family was poor.

Then his parents, who doted on him, died. That was before he turned 16.

Soon he was fighting, stealing and taking drugs. He even got a dragon tattooed on his chest.

His brothers could not control him. Slapping and scolding did not help.

"He came home only a few times a week," said one brother, an electrician.

The family did not know he was deep in crime till he was first caught when he was about 18 years old.

All their advice fell on deaf ears - and Tan went to jail again.

His brothers, two of them odd-job workers, often visited Tan, with biscuits and books for him. Tan was released last August.

Then he stole $51,700 worth of cash and valuables from six places in a burglary spree.

His three brothers, who continued living with him after their married sister moved out, were unaware that Tan stashed the loot in their three-room Ang Mo Kio flat.

Tan was arrested on March 25 after he broke into a garment shop near his flat. He also trafficked in cannabis and failed to turn up for urine tests.

Said one of his brothers: "If he doesn't want to listen to us, what can we do?"

Straits Times, Singapore, 5 August 1997

Youth, 16, gets 15 years' jail and 24 strokes

By Elena Chong

A 16-YEAR-OLD boy was sentenced to a total of 15 years' jail and 24 strokes of the cane yesterday for drug trafficking and consumption.

Alan Loo Pei Xiang and Low Siu Thail, 37, a Malaysian, who originally faced capital charges, pleaded guilty to two amended joint cannabis trafficking charges and one each of consuming Ecstasy. Both are unemployed.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Norul Huda Rashid told the court that Central Narcotics Bureau officers had arrested the pair on Jan 14 after they had alighted from a taxi and Low handed a plastic bag to Loo.

Earlier, Low's husband, Tan Eng Keong, who is at large, gave $50 to Loo to deliver drugs to one "Ah Heng".

Both Loo and Low left in a taxi for Kerbau Hotel and after a short while, Loo came out with a black plastic bag. They then left for Apollo Hotel and alighted near the petrol station where they were arrested.

Low's counsel, Mr Victor Chew Kia Heng, said in mitigation that his client, a divorcee with a 14-year-old son, married Tan two years ago, not knowing his background as a drug trafficker.

When she found out and asked him to stop, he assaulted her. Counsel described her as Tan's victim who had been threatened with severe assault if she failed to go along with his drug activities.

Mr Ong Peng Boon, for Loo, said in mitigation that the teenager, whose parents were divorced when he was eight, was treated like a godson by Low.

He said Tan had paid Loo's $1,300 debt to a loan shark and had demanded that the teen run errands and deliver drugs to make good the money.

Counsel added that Tan also supplied Ecstasy tablets to Loo.

The teenager was sentenced to 14 years and 12 strokes for trafficking in 297.2 g of cannabis along Outram Road on Jan 14 while Low, who is now eight months pregnant, was given 14 years' jail.

Both were given similar sentences for trafficking in 623.2 g of cannabis mixture the same day.

The sentences are to run concurrently, but consecutive to the one-year jail term imposed by District Judge John Ng on them for consuming Ecstasy.

Low had three other charges -- two of trafficking and one of possession -- taken into consideration, while Loo had two other trafficking charges considered for sentencing.

When approached, Low's counsel, Mr Chew, said he had instructions to appeal.

Loo's mother, a 34-year-old food court cashier, and his 59-year-old grandmother, also said that an appeal would be filed.

The pair could have been jailed for up to 20 years for trafficking, and in the case of the boy, could have received up to 15 strokes as well.

For taking drugs, the maximum penalty is a jail term of up to 10 years and a fine of up to $20,000.

Straits Times, Singapore, 8 August 1997

CJ stresses need to get tough on rioting

STRONG measures have to be taken to stem the rise in rioting among youths, said Chief Justice Yong Pung How yesterday when he dismissed a youth's appeal against jail and caning for rioting.

Just as the number of outrage of modesty cases went down when the courts started being a little more strict, he said, so with rioting "we cane every single case now".

Stanley Yim Kar Mun, 18, had appealed against his sentence of 1 years' jail and five strokes of the cane last month. He had been convicted for taking part in a gang fight at the Sin Hoi Sai Eating House in East Coast Road on Nov 1 last year.

The CJ also said that he has noticed offences under Section 147 becoming more prevalent over the last six to eight months.

This is the rioting provision in the Penal Code, which provides for up to five years' jail and caning.

Yim, represented by Mr S. Radakrishnan, had asked to be sent to a reformative training centre (RTC) instead of jail to avoid the stigma of having been in prison.

The CJ called for a psychiatric report to assess if he could be rehabilitated in RTC.

The report, produced in court yesterday, concluded that RTC was not suitable for Yim because of his secret society activities.

Yim's parents divorced in 1992. He was only close to his mother, a 40-year-old store-keeper, with whom he lived in a four-room flat. His father, 46, a contractor, has remarried. Yim dropped out of school in 1994 when he was 14 and joined a bad crowd. He felt neglected, the report noted.

The CJ said that Yim was intelligent and rose swiftly in the ranks of the secret society after he joined in 1995 to become an assistant headman.

He said: "He says he's left the secret society. It's very hard to leave a secret society."

Yim admitted to being involved in 15 "settlement talks", 20 gang fights and numerous unlawful assemblies.

Mr Radakrishnan said that these facts only came up as Yim wanted to tell all in his desire to start anew.

Still, RTC was not the answer in this case, said the CJ. He also asked for reasons to reduce his sentence.

He is young, said Mr Radakrishnan.

The CJ said: "They are all young. That's why I am worried for these people. We are all trying desperately to do everything."

He said Yim had already received the minimum sentence after everything was taken into consideration by a very experienced judge.

Electric New Paper, Singapore, 12 August 1997

He gave little girls

Lust bites

By Chan Seet Fun

My daughter was crying and her lip was bleeding ... I never imagined that an adult would bite her. When she told me, I got angry.

- The mother of a nine-year-old victim

He never tells us what's on his mind ... We've asked him why he did it, but there's just no response. We just sit there. He looks at me and I look at him.

- The mother of Chua Lay Kiang (left, photographed in April)


THOSE who molest someone inside a lift or molest someone under age 14 face three to 10 years jail and caning.

Those who use criminal force on someone, except when the other person suddenly attacked them for no reason, can be jailed up to three months, fined up to $500 or both jailed and fined.

The man nicknamed the "vampire' molester, pleaded guilty yesterday to attacking three primary school girls. Three other molest charges and a charge of using criminal force were taken into consideration. Former waiter Chua Lay Kiang, 23, is expected to be sentenced today. Our reporter speaks to the victims' and the molester's parents

Mum heard a girl screaming but decided not to take a look.

"I didn't know that it was my daughter. I thought that it was just a neighbour's child being disciplined. I didn't want to be a 'kaypoh'," said the housewife in her 30s.

When her daughter walked in through the front door, her lip was bleeding.

"I asked her what happened. She said: 'Someone bit me.' "

"I thought she meant: 'Someone beat me'. I thought that some other child had accidentally hit her with something.

It took the housewife a while to realise that her daughter had been molested and bitten by an adult.

The nine-year-old girl was returning home from tuition on Nov 1, 1996 at about 4.30 pm when a man rushed into the lift with her.

Chua Lay Kiang, 23, followed her out of the lift, grabbed her hand and pinned her to the ground. He then hugged her, kissed her and bit her on the lips.

When he finally let go, she ran home.

Five months later, Chua struck at the very next block in Eunos.

Another nine-year-old girl was on her way home on April 9 this year when Chua rushed into the lift with her. She, too, was hugged, kissed and bitten on the lip.

She fell into Chua's clutches only because she forgot her schoolbag at the playground. Otherwise, she was to have walked home with her mother after school.

Said her mother, a 30-year-old housewife: "I told her to get the bag while I take her younger sister to class.

"But when I came back, I couldn't find her."

She didn't know her daughter had gone home - and fallen prey to Chua.

Said the housewife: "She was very scared. I got scared too. I have five children (aged 16 months to nine years). I'm scared for them. If it can happen to one ..."

Chua was arrested that night at his home in Yishun.

He is a loner - and a stranger even to his own family.

Never in his 23 years has Chua Lay Kiang received any phone calls or had people visit him at home.

"He likes to be alone. He's been like that ever since he was a child. I've never seen his friends," said his mother, 50, a housewife.

He even insisted on having a bedroom to himself, although the family's flat in Yishun has only two bedrooms.

Said his father, Mr Chua Ah Kow, 52, who works at a butter factory: "The four of us - my two younger sons, my wife and I, share the other room. He wanted his own room.

"He's also a bit slow.

"He always did badly in school. He didn't get into fights or that kind of trouble but it was red marks all the way."

He said that his eldest son left school after Primary 8 to work at a fast-food restaurant.

Added Mrs Chua: "But he doesn't tell us much about his work either. He just goes to work, comes home, watches TV, then sleeps."

The Chuas have visited their son many times since he was remanded. But he didn't talk about his offences.

They found out about his crimes only when the police came to the flat in April.

"Those days he was out doing those things, he told us he was visiting his grandmother in Circuit Road," said Mr Chua.

Between September last year and April this year, he molested six girls aged nine to 16 and used criminal force on another nine-year-old.

Yesterday at the Subordinate Courts, Chua's lawyer, Mr Alain Johns, pleaded for leniency, arguing that the victims' trauma was less severe than in rape cases.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Victor Yeo asked the court for a deterrent sentence. He pointed out that Chua has been convicted of several counts of molest in 1990 and 1991.

Chua is expected to be sentenced today.

Straits Times, Singapore, 13 August 1997

Molester waited at void decks for schoolgirls

By Ginnie Teo

CHUA Lay Kiang, 22, would wait at the void decks of Housing Board blocks for schoolgirls to walk by on their way home.

When he saw one entering the lift, he would follow her and molest her.

Yesterday, Chua, a waiter who has been convicted for molest before, was jailed eight years and ordered to be given six strokes of the cane for molesting girls aged nine to 16.

He faced seven molest charges, but the prosecution proceeded with three and took the rest into consideration.

Describing one of the cases, Deputy Public Prosecutor Victor Yeo said that on Sept 26 last year, Chua followed a 10-year-old girl into the lift at a block in Aljunied Crescent.

When the lift arrived at the sixth floor, he followed her out.

He then grabbed her and told her that his younger sister had died. He hugged her and pressed his groin against her private parts, said the DPP. Then, he pushed her onto the floor, pinned her body down and kissed her repeatedly.

He also bit her on the lips. The girl, feeling breathless from the weight of his body on her, cried and kicked him, added the prosecutor.

When he released her and ran down the stairs, she ran home to tell her mother about the incident. They made a police report later.

The girl had scratch marks on her right cheek and nose.

Chua was arrested at his home after he molested a nine-year-old student on April 9.

He has two previous convictions for molest. In 1990, he was put on probation, and in 1991, he was sent to the reformative training centre.

His lawyer, Mr Alain Johns, said his client had a low IQ of 71, compared to an average person's IQ of 100.

He said: "By pleading guilty, he has saved the victims from the ordeal of coming to court, testifying and being the subject of cross-examination."

The DPP, asking for a deterrent sentence, said the number of children aged seven to 14 who were molested went up from 240 in 1995 to 257 last year. He said that despite being given chances to reform, Chua did not.

On Monday, the father of Chua's most recent victim, a 32-year-old sub-contractor, said his daughter, nine, was very scared for the first few days after the incident, but is much better now. On the day of the incident, he said he and his wife were waiting below their block for their daughter to return from school. After waiting for about 30 minutes, they left, thinking that the girl had gone out with friends, as she sometimes did after school.

But she returned about 15 minutes after they left. Chua, who was waiting at the void deck, molested her after following her into the lift and getting off on the 10th floor.

After being molested, she ran home to her grandmother, who told her parents. Her father took her around the estate on his bicycle for about 30 minutes to look for the assailant, but they failed to find him.

Straits Times, Singapore, 13 August 1997

Student gets jail, cane for stabbing rival gang member

A STUDENT gangster who stabbed a rival gang member and caused him to lose a kidney was yesterday jailed for four years and ordered to receive 16 strokes of the cane.

District Judge Tan Siong Thye ordered a deterrent sentence for Tan Kok Heong, 17, who pleaded guilty to rioting and hurting Tan Yong Piew, 23, with a knife earlier this year.

Another teenager, Chua Teck Meng, 17, was also charged with rioting, and the judge called for a reformative training report on him.

On Feb 22, Kok Heong and Teck Meng, both members of the Pak Hai Tong secret society, were at Bukit Timah Plaza with 10 other gang members when they spotted members of the Sio Kun Tong triad, a rival gang.

Claiming the shopping centre as their "operation ground," Kok Heong and his friends chased their rivals away. However, they anticipated that the group would retaliate. At about 7 pm that day, both gangs gathered behind the shopping centre and began fighting. Kok Heong and seven others were armed with knives, while Teck Meng was armed with a metal rod. During the fight, Kok Heong stabbed Mr Tan Yong Piew.

Meanwhile, an anonymous caller alerted the police, who arrived at the scene and detained five people, including Kok Heong and Teck Meng.

Mr Tan Yong Piew was taken to the National University Hospital and was warded for almost two months. He suffered a chest wound, three broken ribs and a ruptured spleen. He also lost his left kidney.

Both Kok Heong and Teck Meng have previous convictions for robbery and theft, respectively.

The judge called for a reformative training report for Teck Meng to be presented on Sept 4 and sentenced Kok Heong to three years and six strokes for rioting with a dangerous weapon. He was also given a concurrent sentence of four years and 10 strokes for causing hurt.

The families of both accused youths were in court, but declined to be interviewed. The cases of two other youths are pending.

Kok Heong could have been jailed up to seven years for rioting and a further 10 years for causing hurt. He could be caned for both offences.

If convicted, Teck Meng faces up to two years' jail, a fine and caning.

Straits Times, Singapore, 30 August 1997

Robbery gang member sentenced to 7 years' jail

THE last member of an Indonesian gang, which committed a series of robberies earlier this year, was sentenced yesterday to 7 years in jail and 24 strokes of the cane.

Musadi, 24, pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery and one count of entering Singapore illegally. Two burglary charges and another one for armed robbery, were taken into consideration.

The court was told that Musadi acted as a lookout while his three accomplices broke into a couple's house in Jalan Novena Selatan on March 15 at 3.50 am and robbed them of cash and valuables worth $12,120. Of these, only a $200 watch was recovered later.

At 3 am the next day, they struck again at a house in Nanyang View and robbed another couple at knifepoint.

They escaped with an assortment of cash, valuables and clothes worth $14,466.

Musadi was arrested by Detective Station Inspector M. Somasamy of Clementi Police Division on April 5.

Investigations showed that he had entered Singapore illegally in a speedboat from Batam.

His three accomplices, Muhammad Said, 25, Samsudin Abdul Rahman, 21, and Syafrudin Hussin, 31, had been dealt with earlier.

They pleaded guilty on June 11 and were each jailed for seven years and three months, and given 24 strokes of the cane.

These were for the two robberies in Jalan Novena Selatan and Nanyang View, and for endangering the life of an Indonesian victim.

The trio had confronted Mr Laode Alimudin, 26, on a track in Tuas South Avenue 4 and robbed him of $145. Then they took him to a nearby beach, bound his hands and legs with a rope and tied it to a big rock before throwing him into the sea.

The victim, however, managed to free himself and alert the police.

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Colin Farrell