SINGAPORE: A man who initiated a fight on an MRT train over a purported staring incident was sentenced to the maximum S$5,000 fine for the offence on Monday (Nov 25).
Muhammad Farid Jalil turned up an hour late for his hearing and was questioned by the judge for his tardiness.
The 26-year-old food delivery rider told District Judge Victor Yeo that he woke up late, was stuck in traffic and went to the wrong court.
"Why did you go to Court 25?" asked the judge in Court 12. "There're so many courts here."
Farid replied: "I looked at the date instead of the court number."
He pleaded guilty to one charge of disturbing the public peace by fighting with co-accused Irfan Akid Kamis, 17, on a train at Raffles Place on Nov 7, 2018.
He boarded the train at Outram Park and was heading towards Tanah Merah when he felt Irfan was staring at him.
Farid approached the teenager as the train neared Raffles Place and confronted him.
They began fighting, with Farid punching Irfan in his face.
They both exchanged blows, and the emergency communications button was activated, drawing an SMRT employee to the scene. She administered first aid and directed for the police to be informed.
Videos of the encounter subsequently went viral on Facebook and both men were arrested soon after.
Irfan sustained tenderness on his cheek and the back of his head, while Farid suffered a swollen, bruised lip, a small laceration, and blood clots in his nostrils.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Phoebe Tan asked the court to impose a maximum fine of S$5,000, saying the co-accused suffered injuries and that there was disruption caused to public order.
She said there is "a greater need to protect public order" in urban environments that may be frantic and congested, especially in public transport areas.
She also pointed out that it was Farid who initiated the entire incident and "needlessly confronted" Irfan, throwing the first punch.
He had previously been sentenced to probation in 2012 for stealing a motor vehicle and driving without a licence, and also received reformative training after breaching his probation order.
Farid, who was unrepresented, told the court that he could not afford the S$5,000 fine and would instead serve two weeks' jail in default.
He urged the court to give him the minimum fine, saying he wanted to apologise to the public for disturbing the peace.
IT WAS A MISTAKE I REALLY REGRET: FARID
"It was a mistake I really regret," he said.
"I don't have any violent history cases or anything ... and most importantly, I apologise. I really, really regret what I did ... to the other party as well."
He said he worked part-time making food deliveries, earning about S$500 a month and supporting his mother.
"I cannot afford S$5,000," he said, asking if he could pay in instalments. The judge said he was not inclined to allow this.
Judge Yeo noted that Farid had started the incident, with other commuters affected by it, and agreed that the maximum fine was appropriate.
The co-accused Irfan was sentenced on Nov 22 to 15 months' probation for his role in the fight, as well as a second charge of being a member of an unlawful society.
For disturbing the peace by fighting in a public place, both men could have been jailed for up to a year, fined a maximum S$5,000, or both.