Man jailed for setting fire to Singapore flag, igniting flames on 7 other flags at HDB block

Man jailed for setting fire to Singapore flag, igniting flames on 7 other flags at HDB block

Elson Ong (TODAY)
Elson Ong Yong Liang is seen leaving the State Courts on July 17, 2020. (Photo: Ili Nadhirah Mansor/TODAY)

SINGAPORE: A man who set fire to a Singapore flag while heavily intoxicated, sparking flames on seven other flags at his block, was jailed for 16 weeks on Monday (Jul 27).

Elson Ong Yong Liang was given a jail term that was about two months shorter than what the prosecution asked for.

He had pleaded guilty to one count of mischief by fire, intending to cause damage to property, with another two charges taken into consideration.

District Judge Ng Cheng Thiam said he had considered all the facts, referred to a similar case where a state flag was burnt and found that the appropriate sentence was 16 weeks' jail.

Ong had returned home after a drinking session on Aug 4, 2019 and was lighting a cigarette when he noticed a Singapore flag hung along the outer walls of his block in Woodlands Crescent.

He set fire to the flag and destroyed it. Its remnants fell and ignited fires on seven other flags hung on the floors below.

A man later called the police and said the flag outside his house had been burnt by someone, adding that there was "no more fire now" and that it probably happened at midnight.

The prosecutor had sought six months' jail, saying that a state flag was set on fire and that the potential harm was quite high, seeing as how other flags had been burnt.

However, defence lawyer Gino Hardial Singh referred to a report by the Institute of Mental Health which stated that Ong had a "maladaptive coping mechanism of burning paper whenever he's stressed".

For mischief by fire intending to cause damage to property, Ong could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined.

Source: CNA/ll(ta)

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