SINGAPORE: A man who scrawled graffiti, including racist messages, on walls and pillars in the Geylang area was sentenced to 13 months' jail and nine strokes of the cane on Monday (Jun 17).
Chen Jianbang, 31, was also sentenced to an additional 60 days' jail for breaching a remission order. He had been in remission from a 21-month jail term meted out in 2017 for housebreaking.
Across the span of one week in January this year, Chen scrawled more than 10 messages in permanent marker in public places such as void deck walls and sheltered walkways in Geylang and Aljunied, court documents said.
These acts of "racially motivated vandalism" included messages such as "MALAY MATI" meaning "Malay die", according to the documents.
The messages were written "with the deliberate intention of wounding the racial feelings of the Malay population", said Deputy Public Prosecutor Shen Wanqin.
Aside from the racist graffiti, which formed the bulk of the charges, Chen also wrote lines such as "DAVE IS SICK" on a wall at Lai Ming Hotel and "GARY IS A B****" on a traffic light control box in Geylang.
Chen pleaded guilty to five charges of vandalism and wounding racial feelings, with another 12 charges taken into consideration for sentencing.
ACTS NOTICED BY PUBLIC, AUTHORITIES
His vandalism acts were noticed by several people, including the station master of Aljunied MRT station, a police officer on patrol and a passer-by, all three of whom called the police.
The graffiti had to be removed with thinner or painted over by hotel employees, town council employees and SMRT employees, depending on where the vandalism occurred.
In one instance on Jan 7 this year, an MRT passenger approached the station master at Aljunied MRT Station to say that banners outside the station had been vandalised.
Investigations found that Chen had gone to the area outside the station at about 2.30am that day and wrote "MALAY FAMILY EAT S***" in indelible blue ink on a banner hung outside the station.
He was caught doing so on closed-circuit television camera footage.
The banner, which belonged to the Land Transport Authority, had to be replaced at S$240, the court heard.
The prosecutor had asked for 14 months' jail with nine strokes of the cane and an additional 61 days' jail for the breach of remission order.
She told the court that Chen had multiple related convictions, including committing mischief in 2013. He was also previously jailed for theft and cheating.
RACIAL HARMONY THE BEDROCK OF PEACE: PROSECUTOR
"The accused chose to inscribe racially charged words onto private and public property, thereby allowing the words to be viewed repeatedly over a period of time," said the prosecutor. "The accused also incorporated implied threats of death into the words that were inscribed."
She said that "a strong deterrent sentence" ought to be imposed, adding that the High Court had previously noted that offences involving racial relations needed to be deterred "as racial harmony forms the bedrock upon which peace and progress in Singapore are founded".
She added that Chen was recalcitrant as he had re-offended shortly after serving his 21-month jail term for another property-related offence.
When asked by District Judge John Ng if he had anything to say, Chen, who was not represented, said "I think nine strokes is OK".
The judge said that even though Chen was "prepared to accept the sentence", the court would be giving a marginally reduced sentence in view of the aggregation principle, which holds that the total sentence should not be crushing on the offender.
He ordered the permanent marker used in the offences to be forfeited to police.