SINGAPORE: Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam has helped alleged cat abuser Lee Wai Leong to find a lawyer.
In a Facebook post on Sunday (Jan 3), Mr Shanmugam said Lee’s family, who lives in Nee Soon GRC where he is a Member of Parliament, had sought help after the 40-year-old was charged in court on Dec 29 with animal cruelty. Lee allegedly threw a cat to its death from the 13th floor of an HDB block in Yishun.
Mr Shanmugam said Lee’s family was unsure of the charges and the next steps. They also shared with Mr Shanmugam’s volunteers the suspect’s medical condition. He wrote: “They said that he had the mentality of a kid, suffers from epilepsy fits and seizures that occur almost on a daily basis. He gives monosyllabic answers to questions. He does not work. He never went beyond P4, and was exempted from NS because of his medical condition.”
Mr Shanmugam added that Lee’s father is the sole bread winner. His aged parents had pleaded for help, saying that they cannot afford to engage a lawyer. Mr Shanmugam said some people had advised him not to help Lee get a lawyer, saying that the public will misunderstand and “think we are helping a cruel cat killer, and (by extension) that we support cruelty to animals”.
The minister said that he thought about it and decided that it was his duty to help Lee get a lawyer: “The court can then get all the facts and decide on the question of whether he is guilty, as well as the appropriate sentence, if (with emphasis), he is found guilty."
“I believe that Singaporeans (including all those who were angry and appalled by the cruelty done to the cats) are at heart generous people, and will understand why we are helping to get a lawyer to act pro bono for Mr Lee,” Mr Shanmugam added. “I don’t think people will therefore assume that I or the lawyer condone cruelty to animals. Far from it.”
Mr Shanmugam said that he has asked Mr Josephus Tan, a lawyer who helps out at his branch, to help Lee with the trial and asked that the public “refrain from coming to conclusions” and to “leave matters to the court”.
“The key thing is that the person(s) responsible for the killings should be identified and stopped and should face punishment according to the law. If someone is mentally unsound, then that is a matter to be proven in court and for the court to consider in deciding on what to do,” he added.