Forget about Xiaxue’s attempt to stay relevant in the current news cycle; there’s a bigger outrage (and one that’s actually worthy of your attention) that has taken hold across Singapore’s online landscape in the past 24 hours.
News feeds on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms are ablaze with posts related to a sentence handed down to a young National University of Singapore (NUS) student found guilty of outraging a woman’s modesty in a train last year.
Specifically, the ire is directed at the presiding judge’s decision to slap a 21-month supervised probation in lieu of jail time. According to The New Paper, District Judge Jasvender Kaur decided that 23-year-old Terence Siow was suitable for probation due to his academic results showing that he has “potential to excel in life” and that his offences are “minor intrusions”.
The intrusions? He repeatedly molested a fellow commuter on a train. Siow sat next to his victim and touched her thigh twice. Even after she moved to another seat and alighted at Serangoon MRT station, he followed her and touched her buttocks over her shorts.
“I think there can be no doubt that there is extremely strong propensity for reform,” Judge Kaur stated.
It’s probably important to note here that Siow committed similar acts before — a fact that he readily admitted.
Since the court reports emerged, the judgement made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move. Marsiling Member of Parliament Alex Yam expressed feeling “disturbed” over the sentence and how the “potential to excel in life” formed the basis for non-custodial sentence.
Despite her name being protected by a court order, the victim went public about the case in media reports and on social media.
“I’m not angry anymore,” wrote 28-year-old Karmen Siew on Facebook. “I am just disappointed that the courts are choosing to treat an adult who has committed multiple sexual offences (not only on me, but on others) as a child, but I am not surprised.”
She also revealed that she was offered $5,000 in compensation to compound the case for a lighter sentence for Siow.
“I refused to do so, and this is the resulting (read: not light) sentence,” she wrote, while also making reference to the case of Brock Turner.
Similar to Siew, Chanel Miller — the victim in the Brock Turner case — went public with her identity. The infamous criminal case in California saw Turner being let off with a light sentence of six months’ confinement in jail (of which he only served half) despite having sexually assaulted an unconscious woman at Stanford University in 2015.
An online petition has since been set up in response to the NUS undergrad’s avoidance of jail time. Directed at the Attorney-General’s Chambers, over 9,800 people have signed their support to “Say NO to Favorable Sentences for ‘Educated’ Sex Offenders”.