SINGAPORE: Laws against sexual offences apply to every individual regardless of their income or educational levels, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin said in Parliament on Monday (Feb 3).
He was responding to a supplementary question from Member of Parliament Lee Bee Wah who asked how the authorities plan to deal with the public perception that university students get away with their crimes more easily than those of other social statuses.
She cited two examples: In December 2019, a 31-year-old man who who took upskirt videos of a woman at Woodlands Checkpoint was jailed for four weeks, whereas a 25-year-old National University of Singapore student was suspended for taking photos of two women who were in the shower.
Conclusions should not be drawn based on “one or two cases", as the factors behind each one are different, Mr Amin said.
"The differences in sentencing could be a result of individual cases and there may be specific circumstances in a case that merits a different punishment or treatment," he said.
"It’s important that we send a very strong message that the rich do not get away easily or lightly for any type of crimes, including sexual offences."
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In his response to Ms Lee’s earlier parliamentary question on how young sex offenders are rehabilitated, Mr Amin said sex offenders of all ages are assessed and are given help to reduce their risk of re-offending.
The Singapore Prison Service runs a programme that help sex offenders manage their interpersonal relationships and emotions, and addresses their negative sexual attitudes, Mr Amin said. Individualised relapse prevention plans are also in place.
The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) works with those under probation and their families to develop intervention and treatment plans as well.
“MSF’s research has found that for youths, who are at a developmental phase of sensation-seeking and impulsivity, their likelihood of re-offending is low when they have received appropriate treatment,” Mr Amin said.
There are also ongoing efforts by the Singapore Police Force to engage schools and universities to prevent sexual offences, such as conducting crime prevention talks on sexual offences in schools, advising universities on security measures and having joint patrols with campus security, he added.