SINGAPORE: A Facebook user who threatened to “open fire” on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community has been fined S$3,500 for posting the “alarming” comment.
Bryan Lim Sian Yang, 37, pleaded guilty to making a threatening communication likely to cause alarm under the Protection from Harassment Act.
Prosecutors said at least 10 police reports were lodged against Lim following his comment on Jun 4 on an anti-LGBT Facebook page.
“I am a Singaporean citizen. I am a NSman. I am a father. And I swore to protect my nation. Give me the permission to open fire. I would like to see these £@€$^*s die for their causes,” he wrote.
His comment went viral eight days later, after 49 people were shot dead at a gay nightclub in Orlando, US.
Lim subsequently apologised for his comment, claiming it had been "taken out of context". "I did not mean physical bullets nor physical death. I mean open fire in debate and remove them from Singapore domestic matters,” he wrote.
"HE CHOSE HIS WORDS DELIBERATELY": PROSECUTION
Among those who made police reports was an employee of Oogachaga, a support group for the LGBT community in Singapore. The employee said Lim’s comment had caused the group’s staff, volunteers and clients to fear for their safety.
Others who lodged reports were concerned by Lim’s “clear threat of violence through gunfire”. Coupled with his comment that he was a national serviceman, netizens thought he may have access to firearms, the prosecution said.
Prosecutors Wong Woon Kwong and Sheryl Janet George said Lim “chose his words deliberately”.
“By laying plain his threat of violence and seeking permission to open fire … (Lim) would have further aroused the emotions of people who disapproved of the LGBT community and … inflamed what, by his own admission, is a deeply emotional issue,” the prosecutors said.
They urged the court to impose a “high fine” of S$4,000 for Lim’s “aggravated, inflammatory” comment which “generated significant alarm throughout the LGBT community … amplified by the recent Orlando shooting”.
Mr Wong said Lim sought to retract the comment only after it had gone viral and his personal details were published online.
"A POORLY THOUGHT-OUT RANT": DEFENCE
Defence lawyer Adrian Wee said Lim’s comment “was an over-exuberant and poorly thought-out rant replete with hyperbole”.
But the effect of Lim’s comment was limited, he argued. “It is in the context of the Orlando shooting that the comment caused alarm to (the LGBT community here),” Mr Wee said.
Lim “cannot be held responsible for the augmented effect of the Orlando shooting that occurred after the comment was posted”, he added, urging the court to impose a fine of between S$1,500 and S$2,000.
Mr Wee also claimed that Lim’s comment was not targeted at LGBTs, but at foreign entities supporting Pink Dot, an annual event held in support of the LGBT community.
He pointed out that “foreign interference” in Pink Dot has since been curbed by the authorities.
In sentencing Lim, District Judge Low Wee Ping said he did not wish to comment on “the cause (Lim) was championing”, but found him guilty “for the manner in which you have communicated on your Facebook in championing your cause”.
For making a threatening communication likely to cause alarm, Lim could have been fined up to S$5,000.