Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Tale Of Two Cities

A Thai national had this to say about Singapore laws:

No Spitting[Singapore has always had the right balance between law, human rights and issues such as entertainment. Readers may scoff at this but Singapore is actually a very decent and fair place to live. Yes, you may say that the people are controlled but at least the Singapore government has got the balance right - unlike Thailand which goes from a totally lawless society to a draconian place where you can't get a drink after midnight. Sure, Singapore has some very harsh laws but this should only worry you if you are a criminal, drug user, or you chew gum. Personally the ban of chewing gum isn't such a bad thing because it does keep the environment much cleaner. I actually admire the law and justice system in Singapore because it punishes those according to the crime and no one escapes no matter who they are."

Julia Elizabeth Tubbs, a British lawyer, knocked down and killed South Korean housewife Oh Eun Sook, 35, her two-year-old daughter, Shyn Ji Yun and five-year-old son Shyn Hong Wook while driving into the Anchorage condominium at Alexandra Road in Feb 2000. She was originally charged with three counts of causing death by dangerous driving. Tubbs claimed trial to an amended charge of causing death by negligence and was acquitted because the prosecution "failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt" that she had been negligent and failed to keep a proper lookout.
Chief Justice Yong Pung How upheld the lower court's acquittal after the prosecution appealed. CJ Yong praised District Judge Audrey Lim's original ruling "for her high quality grounds of judgment" (Straits Times 29 Jun 2001).

Marco Eldon Kerkmeester, 35, an IBM sales director from New Zealand was charged in court with having transmitted a hoax e-mail message which led to the Sept 12 Singapore Airlines flight to Johannesburg being delayed for six hours. The prosecution withdrew the charge against Kerkmeester after receiving a psychiatric report that said he was of unsound mind when he sent the message. He was given a discharge amounting to an acquittal and walked out of court a free man on 12 October . (Straits Times 13 Oct 2001)

Max Ulrich Villinger, 55, the German chief executive officer of logistics company Schenker (Asia) Pacific was fined the maximum of S$1,000 and disqualified from driving for six months, after he pleaded guilty to careless driving on 23 May 2001. Villinger was driving a BMW car when he hit Madam Ara Yacob as he was turning out of Kheam Hock Road. She died the same day from serious injuries inflicted by the accident. (Straits Times 12 Sep 2002)

Student at the German International School in Singapore Julia Suzanne Bohl made headlines on 13 March 2002 when she was charged with drug trafficking after police seized 687 grams (24.2 ounces) of marijuana and other drugs in her apartment, located in a wealthy part of the city-state. But the German woman Bohl, who was 22 when arrested, escaped hanging after laboratory tests showed the amount of pure drugs found in her apartment weighed only 281 grams, less than the 500 grams limit for cannabis which warrants the mandatory death sentence in Singapore. She was released on Friday 15 July 2005 after her five-year jail sentence was reduced by nearly two years for good behavior, prison spokeswoman Lim Soo Eng told Reuters. Singapore stirred up a diplomatic storm with the Netherlands in 1994 when it ignored Western appeals to make an exception to its tough anti-drug rules and hanged Dutchman Van Damme for trafficking 4.32 kilograms (9.5 pounds) of heroin.

Meanwhile a 72-year-old Singapore woman unwittingly rented out her house in Joo Chiat to Chinese immigration offenders, charging them between S$130 and S$150 a month. Tan Siew Yoke was sentenced to six months' jail. (Straits Times 24 May 2001)