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Man who called lift passenger 'smelly' in racist remarks gets jail, fine

Man who called lift passenger 'smelly' in racist remarks gets jail, fine

William Aw Chin Chai is depicted in a video gesturing at one of the victims. (Video: Facebook/Manjit Singh)

SINGAPORE: A man who subjected a lift passenger to racist remarks and stepped on the foot of a woman who held the lift door open for him was on Friday (Jul 26) sentenced to four weeks' jail and a S$1,000 fine.

William Aw Chin Chai, 47, had also splashed noodles on two men at Singtel Shop Comcentre.

He pleaded guilty to charges of wounding racial feelings, using criminal force and voluntarily causing hurt. 

A fourth charge for stealing four mineral water bottles from a food court was taken into consideration.

The court heard that Aw was jobless when he committed those offences on three different occasions last year.

On Aug 3, Aw was in a lift at Changi Airport Terminal 2 when the victim, 33-year-old Indian national Ramachandiran Umapathy, entered the lift.

The construction worker was at the airport to perform installation works for the MRT tunnel.

When he entered the lift, Aw began uttering: "You f****** dirty people, go out", "F*** off" and "I don't like to take with Indian, you smelly."

Mr Ramachandiran told Aw off for making such racist remarks, said Assistant Public Prosecutor Lydia Goh.

He also filmed the exchange and posted it on the Facebook page of the Singapore Police Force. The video was later picked up by other pages and went viral. Mr Ramachandiran lodged a police report.


More than a month after this, Aw was eating at Singtel Comcentre along Exeter Road when he picked up a plastic bowl of noodle soup, walked over to two unidentified men and splashed it at them.

The incident was captured on closed-circuit television.

And in January last year, Aw injured a woman who had held a lift door open for him as he was rushing in.

The court heard that after Aw entered the lift at NUH Medical Centre, he stood near the woman, 49-year-old Wahida Abdullah, and stepped on her left foot. 

Ms Wahida sought medical treatment for the mild injury on her foot, before calling the police.

The prosecution said the woman was an "innocent victim who was so nice so as to press the lift button for the accused to enter".

"In return for her kindness, he stepped on her foot," said the prosecutor.


The prosecution asked for four weeks' jail and a fine of S$1,000. 

However, defence lawyer Siraj Shaik Aziz asked for a week's jail for the offence of wounding racial feelings, saying that it was not premeditated.

It was captured between only two individuals in a lift, he said, pointing out that "even Amos Yee was given three weeks' jail".

He said his client's sentence should not be that close to Yee's, who had claimed trial and disseminated his message widely, when the culpability was far apart.

Aw was remorseful, he said, and had pleaded guilty at the earliest instance.

In response, the prosecutor said that Aw had not only said those words against the victim, but was also shown in footage to be kicking at him and acting in a "very violent" manner.

It also happened at Changi Airport, which is frequented by tourists, and a message needs to be sent out that "this type of action is not tolerated by the court", she said.

For wounding racial feelings, Aw could have been jailed for up to three years, fined, or both.

He could have been jailed for up to three months, fined a maximum S$1,500, or both for using criminal force on the two men.

For voluntarily causing hurt to the woman, he could have been jailed two years, fined a maximum S$5,000, or both.

Source: CNA/ll(gs)


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