SINGAPORE: Entertainment lawyer Samuel Seow Theng Beng has pleaded guilty to using criminal force and hurting two of his employees in an incident that occurred two years ago and went viral after footage was posted online.
Seow, the 47-year-old owner of law firm Samuel Seow Law Corporation, pleaded guilty on Monday (Jul 27) to one charge each of voluntarily causing hurt and using criminal force.
Another charge of using criminal force and a fourth charge under the Protection from Harassment Act will be taken into consideration for sentencing.
The court heard that Seow also owned two companies: Beam Artistes and Samuel Seow Corporate. The victims Rachel Kang Pei Shan, 21, and Brenda Kong Shin Ying, 26, were employed under Seow.
Ms Kang worked as an artiste and events executive at Beam Artistes, while Ms Kong, who is also Seow's niece, worked at the law firm as a lawyer.
All charges arose from an incident at the law firm in South Bridge Road on Apr 17, 2018.
Ms Kang was about to leave the office to prepare for a company event when Seow reprimanded her, as she had not finished her work and was leaving the office without giving a proper account of her work to him.
In his anger, Seow forcefully poked Ms Kang's forehead twice with his finger, causing her annoyance and pain. He also pushed a file that Ms Kang was holding, causing her to stagger back, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Kumaresan Gohulabalan.
The acts were captured by closed-circuit television cameras in the firm, and were witnessed by Seow's niece, Ms Kong.
SECOND INCIDENT WITH HIS NIECE
Shortly after the encounter with Ms Kang, Seow asked where Shaun - an associate director of the firm - was. Court documents did not give Shaun's last name.
Ms Kong heard her uncle's questions but did not respond to him. She walked to the photocopy machine, leaving her phone on voice-recording mode after watching what her uncle had done to Ms Kang.
Seow saw her and asked her where Shaun was, and Ms Kong replied that Shaun had a meeting earlier, but said she did not know where he went after that.
Seow grew angry and asked Ms Kang why she had not replied earlier, and Ms Kong said she did not know where Shaun was after his meeting.
Unsatisfied with her answer, Seow walked towards her while repeatedly asking why she had not replied him, coming close to her face.
Ms Kong raised her arm across her chest to protect herself, fearing that Seow might grow violent, but accidentally touched Seow's chest.
This angered Seow, who charged towards Ms Kong shouting "Brenda!" and repeatedly saying "you beat me, you beat me, you dare to beat me".
He grabbed Ms Kong by her arm and pushed her back. Another employee intervened and held onto Seow to restrain him. Seow broke free and slapped his niece several times on both her cheeks and the top of her head.
Ms Kong retaliated by hitting Seow once on his face. By this time, other employees had arrived and witnessed the assault. They kept pleading with Seow to calm down and stop, but he continued to confront his niece, poking her with his hand.
When she tried to fend him off, he charged towards her and pushed her against a table in the office, and Ms Kong fell down.
Seow was restrained and separated from Ms Kong, but kept shouting at her and scolding her, demanding to know why she had not replied earlier about Shaun's whereabouts.
He charged at Ms Kong again after she said Seow was "destroying" her, and another employee Serene Tan intervened and pulled Seow away.
Seow turned to Ms Tan and shouted "you stop it", while hitting Ms Tan on her arm. He broke free and confronted Ms Kong again, but she eventually managed to leave.
She went to a hospital with tenderness over her cheek, scalp and arm, along with a bruise on her arm and an abrasion on her thigh with an accompanying bruise.
An audio recording of Seow's assault against Ms Kong was captured on her phone, and a video of the attack was uploaded on YouTube on Apr 26, 2019.
The hearing was adjourned for a pre-trial conference next month, and is set for a Newton hearing to settle issues on whether and when Seow had a mental condition.
Law Society President Gregory Vijayendran told CNA that a disciplinary tribunal had been formed and had released its findings in March.
The tribunal found that there was cause of sufficient gravity for Seow’s conduct to be referred to the Court of Three Judges, the highest disciplinary body to deal with lawyers' misconduct. LawSoc has since filed an application for Seow to show cause as to why he should not be sanctioned. A date for this hearing will be fixed after the criminal case has concluded.
For voluntarily causing hurt, Seow can be jailed for up to two years, fined up to S$5,000, or both.
For using criminal force, he can be jailed for up to three months, fined up to S$1,500 fine, or both.