The State Court on Thursday dealt with three separate cases of sexual offences committed by men against minors.
They are the latest in what seem to be a frequent occurrence in Singapore, going by news reports, of such cases involving minors. (See definition of “minor” here.)
In the first case on Thursday, 48-year old odd-job worker, Lee Kia Kit, was sentenced to seven years’ preventive detention and was also given one stroke of the cane for outraging the modesty of two girls, aged 13 and 15, when they were on their way to school in March.
The Deputy Public Prosecutor told the court that Lee had also had three previous convictions for sexual offences since 2011. The DPP thus argued that imprisonment had “no rehabilitative or deterrent effect” on Lee whose previous offences, the court was told, were committed against victims aged between nine and 45.
57-year old Teo Koon Tian, the second case heard in the courts yesterday, was sentenced to 20 months in jail for touching a 10-year-old boy inappropriately.
According to Channel Newasia:
“Teo committed the offence on Jul 18 on a boy he spotted at a void deck, where he was drinking beer. Teo approached the boy, who was playing with his mobile phone, and told him he was “very cute and handsome”. He started rubbing the boy’s thigh despite his protests.
“Noting that the offence was committed in broad daylight, Deputy Public Prosecutor Joshua Lim argued that Teo ‘has to be told that he has to pay for his crimes against innocent, vulnerable, defenceless young boys’.”
Teo had committed a similar offence in 2004 against a 13-year-old boy, and was sentenced to 15 months in jail plus nine strokes of the cane then.
On Thursday, he was spared the cane because of his age.
Singapore law prohibits anyone above 50-years old from being caned.
The third case involved 30-year old Abdul Rahim Abubakar. He received 10 months jail for asking a 14-year old girl to perform fellatio on him.
On 5 August, the courts also dealt with a former teacher who had molested an 8-year old pupil under his charge during tuition class. The Straits Times reports that the teacher had made the girl stand next to him and he had touched her private parts through her clothes, while the other pupils continued with their work, oblivious to what had happened.
The former teacher was sentenced to a year in jail and three strokes of the cane.
A month earlier in July, a junior college teacher was jailed 25 months for engaging in sex with a 14-year old boy.
In June a teacher who headed his school's department for character and citizenship was sentenced to four years and nine months' jail on Monday for sexually abusing a 15-year-old student.
The teacher, who is now 33 and unemployed, had admitted to five of 10 charges of sex-related offences between September and December 2012. (Straits Times)
In April, 24-year old Suhaimi Shamsudin was jailed for a year for having sex with a 14-year-old student.
In the same month, a construction worker was dealt six months jail time for molesting a 12-year old girl through the sliding window of her flat in Yishun.
In February, 30-year-old teacher Yeo Chang Yong, who sexually exploited two of his students, aged 14 and 15, was sentenced to 26 months’ jail.
Also in February, part-time waiter Ryan Nicholas Shah, 27, was jailed for 27 months after pleading guilty to three counts of sexually penetrating two minors aged 14 and 15.
In January, a 49-year-old admitted to four of eight charges of molestation, unnatural sex and an indecent act with his stepdaughters over a period of time.
The first victim was between seven and eight years old when he made her perform oral sex on him in 2007.
He was jailed two years for the offences.
In July, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said he was “deeply disappointed” with the cases of teachers involved in sexual crimes with their students.
Since February 2008 there have been at least 14 cases of teachers having sexual relationships with students under age 16.
Mr Heng said "the Ministry of Education will work with schools to intensify the communication and engagement with teachers on the professional code of conduct".
It will also "make explicit the professional boundaries that must not be breached in educators' interactions with students as well as step up vigilance to safeguard and protect our students".
While Mr Heng was referring to the cases involving educators and their charges, the Government should also perhaps take a closer – and tougher – look at what more can be done to protect children outside of the school context.
The frequent number of such sexual offences, as can be observed reported in the media, is disconcerting for parents and children alike.