Say NO to Favorable Sentences for "Educated" Sex Offenders

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Thank You + How You Can Help Next

Dear Supporter,

In the past four days, you were one of the 70,000+ people who've expressed their disagreement, concern and anger over the probation-only verdict for NUS student Terence Siow Kai Yuan, who committed multiple counts of molest last year.

The outrage was justifiably made worse by the presiding judge's classification of the Siow's actions as "minor intrusions" and using his "potential to excel in life" as a mitigating argument against a jail time and caning.

A day after the petition was started, Law Minister K. Shanmugam made the following statement via his Facebook Page:

[ Molest Case ]

There has been a fair bit of reaction to the verdict in this case. Terence Siow who molested a woman at Serangoon MRT was sentenced to probation. The victim, has also made her views clear.

I will make a few points :

1. People are entitled to express their views, unhappiness, with the verdict, and their feelings that the punishment is inadequate.
2. 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.
3. I was surprised, myself, with the verdict.
4. I therefore asked AGC for their views. AGC officers told me that they disagreed with the verdict, and that they intend to appeal. That is consistent with my views as well.
5. I will add this : while people feel strongly about the case, we nevertheless should avoid casting aspersions personally on judges – they are doing their duty, to the best of their abilities.

We should now let the Appeal Court look at the matter.

The Courts will decide according to the law, on the facts before them.

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. [End of statement]

While such a statement coming from our Law Minister might sound encouraging, the crux of the issue has yet to be addressed: As long as a sex offender's educational status and "potential to excel in life" can be used to argue for a lesser punishment in court, the resulting message to society at large is one that dissuades victims from speaking up while emboldening sexual predators at the same time.

In other words, the practice of handing out favourable, mitigated sentences based on personal merit with little or no bearing with the very nature and motivation of the crime in question is a practice that will damage society in profound ways over time.

We do not want to live in a dysfunctional society where citizens — not just women — have lost faith in our public institutions e.g. the Police and the Courts. We do not want women to fear every time they step out of their home. We do not want their minds to default to thinking there is little hope of justice should they fall victim to a sexual crime.

And as if there aren't already enough silent victims out there today, even more victims will choose NOT to report being violated. Out of this crippling helplessness, most of them will experience profound psychological damage. Meanwhile, predators get even more "free passes", or progress to even worse crimes.

What Next?

Firstly, the case with Terence Siow is far from over, and I will continue to keep this petition open. That being said, kindly refrain from commenting on the case when the appeal has been filed, as doing so may constitute subjudice.

Secondly, I would like to take this petition forward beyond venting anger and displeasure at the initial verdict and the judge's words. I recognise that if we are to really make a difference collectively, we have to encourage and empower victims to speak up. 

The second point will take a mammoth effort to accomplish in Singapore society. Also I believe there can be better ways to give voice to victims in addition to the #MeToo movement.

Who Am I?

At this point, I thought I might introduce myself. I'm Kyle Leung, a 32-year-old content creator/writer working 9-to-5 like most people in Singapore. I'm actually quite introverted/timid by nature, just that I feel compelled to stand up for what I feel is wrong or unjust. I'm engaged to a supportive fiancee and I love cats, cooking and football. (My infrequently updated IG is @kylemeowsloudly).

I am also a victim of abuse. I'm all too familiar with the feeling of helplessness. My heart goes out to all victims of crime and injustice who feel the weight of silence and have to endure long-term emotional and mental consequences for something awful that had happened to them. The shadow never quite goes away.

Over time, I have also come across molest victims who have never spoken out or reported what was done to them. It's shocking to me what some men can do and get away with.

How You Can Help

I believe things can change for the better if we find a collective voice. Whether you've been a victim or not, and regardless of your gender, you can contribute if you have a suggestion, an idea or simply a thought about how we can better empower victims of sexual harassment and abuse in Singapore.

Ultimately, I cannot do it alone with a simple petition, nor do I have all the ideas and answers on what shape or form any next steps would be. The possibilities are vast, be it starting a programme in primary school, forming a social media campaign, or organising a high-level dialogue between NGOs and ministries. Some of you might also have connections to relevant people and networks that may prove invaluable.

I believe that you and I have the opportunity to shape our society for the better through this cause. Whatever your age, gender or background, I welcome you to chime in. You can reach me via email at kyle.leung.sg@gmail.com and I'll do my best to reply outside of work hours.

Last but not least, thank you for supporting this petition.

Sincerely,
Kyle Leung

Kyle Leung
1 year ago