Thursday, November 3, 2016

Inciting violence not as serious as blasphemy in Singapore

In response to the annual Pink Dot event held in Singapore, a man by the name of Bryan Lim had posted the following call to arms on his Facebook:

I am a Singaporean citizen. I am an NSman. I am a father. And I swore to protect my nation. Give me the permission to open fire. I would like to see these £@€$^*s die for their causes.”

There is no other way to parse this statement other than it was an explicit and vulgar call to visit violence upon members of the LGBT community. Even Donald Trump's hint to gun bearers to protect their second amendment rights was, by contrast, far more subtle. And that is saying something.

You would be forgiven for thinking that such incitement to violence would constitute a serious criminal offense. I mean, threatening a single person with bodily harm is in itself a rather serious felony, much less a publicly expressed desire for a Columbine-type massacre at a LGBT solidarity event.

After his outburst, Lim was duly taken to task by netizens.  Lim's employer, Canon, has issued a statement indicating that they will investigate this issue. I am not sure exactly what needs to be investigated. Presumably, Lim's idea of taking a good shot would be quite different from what Canon pitches to its consumer base.

Police reports were lodged and Lim was investigated and charged by the Singapore police.  Inexplicably, the court only found him guilty of a lesser charge of making statements likely to cause alarm and fined him S$3,500.

What a slap on the wrist for Lim and a slap on the face for natural justice.

The reader will recall that it was only in 2015 that the Singapore courts sentenced a 17 year old boy to 4 weeks jail for making statements which injured the sensitivities of meek, peace loving Christians.

So a 36-year old man who made explicit and unambiguous threats to the lives of people for no reason other than he disliked their sexual orientation was let off with a fine, and a puny one at that. On the other hand, a 17-year old boy who compared the late Prime Minister to Jesus (for being similarly power-hungry demagogues) was deemed to have committed a crime serious enough to warrant a jail sentence. The latter, at least, had the merit of possibly passing off as critique of the late PM's political career, whilst the former was simply an unvarnished call for senseless murder.  Yet, it seems that the courts here were inclined to show more leniency to the ostensibly more mature offender.

Why? There is simply no logic in this. 

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