The State Courts / photo: Terry Xu


Netizens voice disagreement with court sentence of SCDF officer caught taking upskirt videos of female colleague

An ex-Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officer was sentenced to five weeks’ jail last Wednesday (17 May) for his indecent behaviour of taking upskirt videos of a female colleague.

Poh Siok Peng, then a major, was caught on 9 March 2016 after he had made many up-skirt videos of a colleague. The victim suspected his behavior and placed a hidden camera near her cubicle and caught him.

The 45-year-old had been charged with two counts of insulting modesty of the 26-year-old woman who worked with him on 3 May; he has pleaded guilty.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Chee Ee Ling has sought a sentence of at least six weeks for each charge, while Poh’s lawyer asked the court for a fine or a jail term of less than four weeks. Poh could have been jailed up to one year per charge and fined for insulting the modesty of a woman.

However, District Judge Kessler Soh said five weeks’ jail, which was in between what both sides had sought, was appropriate.

The judge said he agreed with the prosecutor that Poh’s offences were planned and that Poh had abused the victim’s trust, but he also agreed with the defence that the degree of intrusion was not high, as the victim wore safety pants and her private parts were not captured on video.

The judge also urged Poh, who claimed that he watched the videos (for) stress-relief, to seek help to cope with stress in a more ‘appropriate way’, albeit the defence had also mentioned in court priorly, that Poh has sought professional help after he was caught.

Many observers sounded their disagreement with the sentence; many saying that the intent and not the result should decide the result. Some of the readers’ comments on Channel NewsAsia Facebook post of the news are quoted below.

Angeline Lee wrote, “It is the intent of the pervert, not the victim's clothing, which is on trial.”

David Chua Woon Teck wrote, “The intention is there; what... you mean you intent to rob 1 million but the bank have no money, the sentence is lower?”

Edwin A. S.P. Goh wrote, “So if I were to fire a gun at someone who's wearing a bulletproof vest, I technically won't have to serve a very heavy sentence because the penetration of the bullet wasn't very high, right?”

Jennifer Gan wrote, “I am so horrified by this logic. Ladies.. does this mean that we have to go commando style in order to nail perverts? Now the onus is on US to have those perverts jailed for a longer time....”

Zen Tan wrote, “Seriously I am beginning to doubt our judges' judgemental state of mind... Recently there has been too many controversial judgements made that is beyond our layman understanding... How can she wearing safety shorts be taken into consideration when passing his judgement? The intent is there, yet they can still twist it to the offender's defense..”

Eerena Teo wrote, “Wrong means wrong. Taking upskirt pictures on the sly, with premeditated intent. How can one justify such disgusting act of intrusion with  ‘not high’ and concur with defense? It wasn't like he regretted and stop what he did half way. But rather didn’t manage to do what he fully intended to do; at the expense of victim's modesty.”

Joe Basara wrote, “Intention to upskirt is intention to upskirt, regardless of whether or not the victim wears safety pants. The major needs a heavier penalty on grounds that he is a commissioned officer and needs to set exemplary standards. STRESS is lame excuse to betray the trust of his subordinates, there are always other outlets to relieve stress of that nature, what he did is just thrill seeking and he enjoyed it.”

However some readers had a different opinion:

Xavier Ng wrote, “For those who are thinking that singapore's law has gone down the drain, unlike the good old days, please read the law. Whether private parts or undergarments has been exposed have always been a factor considered when passing a sentence for up skirt videos.”
“Calm down, don't get emotionally riled up. If you compare the 5 week sentence with the previous few cases of:

  1. engineer who taken videos of 26 ladies: 10 weeks jail,
  2. guy who taken videos of a few ladies: 8 weeks,

You can say that the 5 week sentence is rather in line with previous sentencing.

Alex Lim wrote, “Our judiciary is clean and uncorrupt, but inconsistencies shown by the judges on sentencing would make it look otherwise. I am sure they are guidelines on this aspect to follow.”

Peter Tan wrote, “Don’t be too early to condemn, wait till one day your family members, friends or relatives or even yourself got into trouble with any of the law or wrongly accused, you wish the judge can put a little humanity, compassion and weighing mitigating and aggravating factors in the case. Btw, his career, reputation is gone, with a criminal record. Anyone can change if they are willing, I hope he can change for his family.

 

This entry was posted in Current Affairs.
This entry was posted in Current Affairs.