'I could have died that night' – Expat assault victims tell all

~by: Jewel Philemon~

“All of these things are common sense. What really makes me sad is how incompetent our system is.” – Mr Laurence Wong



11 April 2010:

Assault (Mr Liew hospitalised)

end April 2011:

assailants arrested, but only after extensive online chatter and investigative work of Mr Wong

June 2011:

assailants charged, bail granted

July 2011:

One assailant fled 

Dec 2011:

2nd assailant fled

Feb 2012:

3rd man sentenced to three weeks jail

Dahlberg fled Singapore sometime in July 2011, approximately 14 months after the violent brawl, and Springall escaped the country while out on bail in December 2011, approximately 5 months after that. Miller, the only expat in the group who did not jump bail, was prosecuted and sentenced to three weeks of jail.

However, the victims of the ordeal were kept entirely in the dark about these developments and were only notified of Dahlberg and Springall’s fleeing of the country by the media.

In fact, Mr Liew claims that the police, when confronted, were not even aware that the assailants had jumped bail! The police then told Mr Wong and Mr Liew that they are working on the case and when probed further, almost defensively exclaimed that, “You cannot say that the fault lies with the learned justice. The system is done this way."

Mr Liew adds that the officer also told them that the police does not owe victims the duty of information. Mr Wong cuts in to mention that the police have not even disclosed the list of exact charges against the assailants.

“What really makes me sad is not how incompetent our police or legal system is. It’s that people with authority and power to protect are not protecting us. They are not protecting us efficiently enough. I feel really sad for fellow Singaporeans…Those with the power that is invested in them to protect us are not doing their job well enough, in my perspective, because what will fellow Singaporeans do, what will your mother do, what will your brother do, your friends, when you see things like this happening? It has instilled fear in every Singaporean.”

“We’re being treated so unfairly now just because we want to save a fellow Singaporean who (is also) somebody’s father. Until now, I still do not know how to digest (this).”

Communication is weak, says Mr Liew, “Even weak is an overrated word for them!”

“It's been two months since the second guy ran away, that is such a long time!” exclaims Mr Liew logically, “You can kill someone, hide the body and let it rot away in that amount of time!”

“I have given up on our system.”

The absence of swift, effective law enforcement and legal actions are, understandably, tiring and vexing points for the victims, as well. The victims cannot understand why the passports of the assailants were not impounded after they were granted bail, especially since the flight risk was so high in their cases.

This, coupled with the perception of appalling lack of effort, direction, sensitivity, professionalism, and efficiency from the police force, reflects rather badly on our government as a whole, especially in light of the recent fiascos like public transport and flooding problems, the victims feel.

Mr Liew insinuates that these are holes in the fabric of our governmental system, which have intensified “since the last General Election”, which saw the ruling party take a vast majority of parliamentary positions with 81 out of 87 seats.

“To let a convict jump bail so easily is a big loophole. We have so many extradition treaties but none are effective enough to deal with such escaped convicts. Even simple state laws (in other countries) prevent such things!”, Mr Liew laments.

It would certainly be logical to question why conclusive action hasn’t been taken, despite Singapore’s extradition treaties with Commonwealth countries. Is it because it would be a diplomatic nightmare? Or perhaps there are political implications at play? Were the assailants who took flight 'untouchable' top fliers?

“They (the government) need to do what they should do. We should not be telling them what to do”, Mr Liew comments.

Mr Wong admits that he has given up on our system, as a result of this harrowing experience, “We’re in so much trouble because we tried to help a fellow Singaporean who could have been my dad. I feel jaded. From now on, I will protect my interests first as a father and a husband.”

He continues, “A lot of these things are common sense! What really makes me sad is how incompetent our system is. I feel really sad for our fellow Singaporeans. It has instilled fear in every Singaporean.”

“This case has come to a dead end”, voices Mr Liew, “Perhaps the system is good but the people managing it are not good. I have to tell myself to relax every night. If a person is not dead, nothing swift will be done.”

“I don’t want them dead, I just want justice.”

Coming back to their assailants, Mr Liew feels that enough is enough, “I just want justice to be served. I want them to be charged because it does justice to those hurt. It doesn’t matter whether it is three days, three weeks, three months or three years. I believe in law and justice. I don’t want them dead, I just want justice.”

He also affirms that he would like to meet Miller, the only assailant among the trio who faced the music, saying, “I want to see Miller. I am not a vindictive person. He also must have had his own drama. Maybe I can understand where he is coming from. It is time to close and move on. It is better to be friends than adversaries.”

“Because of my bloodshed, perhaps more bloodshed can be prevented.”

So what will bring closure?

“Justice and conviction of our assailants will bring partial closure. I want a step forward for more closure.”

A full closure for Mr Liew will come only when the loopholes in our law enforcement and legal systems are plugged.

As for now, Mr Liew and Mr Wong are still chasing after the authorities for updates on the proceedings of their case. They plan to contact parliamentarians, such as Minister for Home Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Teo Chee Hean, and Law Minister, Mr K. Shanmugam, soon for support.

When asked about their realistic expectations, a fatigued Mr Wong replied that he is “not expecting much”, while a more optimistic Mr Liew remarks that, “Because of my bloodshed, perhaps more bloodshed can be prevented.”

Mr Liew, “I could have died that night. But I survived, fortunately.” But both decided not to keep quiet for the sake of other assault victims like Ionescu's, who is now dead. 

This is Part 3 of a 3 part article. Part 1 is HERE and Part 2 is HERE.