SINGAPORE: Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said on Friday (Sep 27) he was “surprised” at the court’s verdict after a National University of Singapore (NUS) student was sentenced to probation for molesting a woman.
Terence Siow Kai Yuan, 23, was found guilty of using criminal force with intent to outrage the modesty of his victim, whose identity is protected by a gag order.
On Wednesday, he was given 21 months of supervised probation with conditions, and ordered to perform 150 hours of community service and attend an offence-specific treatment programme. His parents also furnished a S$5,000 bond to ensure his good behaviour.
NUS said on Friday that disciplinary action was taken, including suspension and mandatory counselling.
Siow had touched his victim on her thigh twice while travelling on the MRT. He molested her again on an escalator at Serangoon MRT station.
In a Facebook post, Mr Shanmugam said he had asked the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) for its views because he was surprised at the verdict.
“AGC officers told me that they disagreed with the verdict, and that they intend to appeal. That is consistent with my views as well,” he wrote.
Mr Shanmugam noted that there has been "a fair bit of reaction" to this case, adding that the victim's father had written to him.
“I can also understand how the victim and her parents must feel. The father wrote to me. Many of us (speaking for myself as a parent), will feel the same way,” he said.
While people are entitled to express their views on the verdict and their feelings about the punishment, Mr Shanmugam said they should “avoid casting aspersions” on the judge.
Judges are “doing their duty, to the best of their abilities”, he added.
"We should now let the Appeal Court look at the matter," said the minister.
“If, after the appeal is decided, we, as a society, still generally believe that the law should deliver a different outcome, then it is not the courts’ fault.
“It is then for Parliament to deal with that, change the law. And people know – in Singapore, the Government will move and put legislation before Parliament to consider.”
In response to CNA's queries, the AGC said it has filed a notice to appeal to the High Court.
"We are unable to comment further as the matter is before the courts," said a spokesperson.
PETITION AGAINST "FAVOURITISM"
As of 5.45pm on Friday, more than 20,000 people have signed a change.org petition calling for people to take a stand against what was termed as “favouritism” for sex offenders.
Siow was travelling on the North-East Line towards Punggol MRT station on Sep 12 last year when he sat next to his victim.
He “felt the urge” to touch her, and used his left hand to touch her right thigh. She shifted away from him and crossed her legs, but Siow repeated his action.
The victim moved to another seat and got off at Serangoon MRT station, with Siow following her to an ascending escalator.
While standing behind her, he used his finger to touch her buttocks over her shorts. The victim turned around and shouted at him. She told the station officer she had been molested, pointing to Siow, who left the station.
The judge on Wednesday reportedly described Siow’s offences as “minor intrusions”, and that the probation service had found him suitable for probation as his academic results showed he had the “potential to excel in life”, the New Paper reported.
The penalties for using criminal force to outrage the modesty of a person is a maximum jail term of two years, fine, caning, or any combination of these punishments.
CNA was not at Siow's sentencing. In response to requests from CNA, the State Courts said a copy of the judge's comments is not available.