Dr Yeo Sow Nam, a well-respected anaesthetist in Singapore, was charged with four counts of molestation on 7 Feb 2020 stemming from a complaint made by a woman in her thirties.
He was accused of committing these offences on the 12th storey of Mount Elizabeth Hospital near Orchard Road in the evening of 9 Oct 2017.
The woman, who cannot be publicly identified due to a gag order by the court, is neither Dr Yeo’s patient nor staff or a fellow doctor.
Dr Yeo was called up by the police in mid-Oct 2017 and was told that a woman had alleged that he molested her four times at his clinic a week prior to the questioning.
Close to four years after undergoing investigations, being charged and the court holding hearings on the case, Dr Yeo was cleared of all charges on 16 Aug this year after the prosecution applied for a discharge amounting to an acquittal (DATA).
It was during a hearing in March this year that Mr Eugene Thuraisingam, Dr Yeo’s defence counsel, had the complainant confess in a number of instances under cross-examination that she had lied to the court under oath and had given false evidence.
Dr Yeo told TODAY in an interview after his acquittal that prior to the prosecution’s decision, his ordeal with the case was “painful”.
“I was stopped at customs (over passport issues), asked to report to the police and procedurally, they had to handcuff me before I was bailed out,” he recounted, his expression grave as he sat behind his desk in his clinic.
“It was humiliating; a lot of ignominy, public shame, a feeling of persecution by the country I love when I haven’t even done anything wrong.”
The case also resulted in Dr Yeo’s dismissal from his position as a visiting consultant at a public hospital, which took place shortly after he was charged.
He also lost a few patients at his own clinic, The Pain Specialist.
Dr Yeo had to fork out over S$600,000 for his legal expenses, hiring a few lawyers before having Mr Eugene Thuraisingam and his team onboard his defence.
The amount spent for his defence will not be able to be claimed from anyone — even from the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC).
Instead of doing the right thing by charging the complainant who had confessed to lying on oath, the public service agency is turning around to allege Dr Yeo’s defence lawyer of abusing the court process and threatening him of disciplinary action.
On Tuesday (31 Aug), AGC issued a press statement alleging Eugene Thuraisingam LLP of issuing “misleading and regrettable” remarks.
In its statement — which has been regurgitated by Singapore local media almost word for word by most — the AGC also declared that it will not charge the complainant for providing false evidence.
“Critically, there is no finding by the Court in this case that the complainant had lied or had even given inconsistent evidence,” said the AGC.
This statement by the AGC is ridiculous and disingenuous, as its prosecutors were the ones who had filed an application to withdraw the charges.
How could the court have issued its findings on whether the complainant gave false evidence under oath when AGC had prematurely terminated the proceedings?
Had the proceedings been allowed to carry on till the end, it would have not been hard for the court to make findings on the false evidence she gave, since the complainant had already confessed to doing so herself at the stand.
AGC might go on to argue that it was Mr Thuraisingam who sought to withdraw an application to have the gag order for the complainant lifted as it did in its statement.
This is yet another example of how AGC is misleading the public, for its prosecutors had cited the Section 153(4) of the Women’s Charter and Section 425A of the Criminal Procedure Code as their argument against the application.
The defence withdrew the application after agreeing that the gag order can only be removed if the woman is charged for perjury.
However, they sought to reserve Dr Yeo’s rights to apply for the gag order to be lifted in the event that the complainant is charged and convicted.
That is, however, not possible now, as the AGC has declared that it will not charge the complainant.
It is also outrageous that the AGC said that there is no evidence to suggest that the complainant had fabricated her account of events regarding the alleged outrage of modesty, when the defence has pointed out instances where the complainant confessed to perjury or providing false information under cross-examination by Mr Thuraisingam.
Mr Thuraisingam in a Facebook post also pointed to how the prosecution objected to the transcripts of court proceedings to be made public.
The judge had overruled the prosecutors’ objection and ordered that redacted versions be made public.
AGC also objected to the recording of the public hearing for Dr Yeo’s acquittal. The court, however, held that it should be made public.
What is AGC and its prosecutors afraid of, with all its objections? Are they afraid of the public knowing the truth of the matter, seeing how it seems to be misleading the press and the public with their half-baked statement and what appears to be their concealment of facts?
Furthermore, something must be very wrong with the prosecutors’ abilities if it is really the case where the complainant’s evidence was judged by several prosecutors to be very convincing, and that the charges against Dr Yeo could be proven.
This is especially so since the prosecution had to apply to withdraw the charges even before the defence could run its case in court.
Why didn’t the prosecutors discover the inconsistencies of the complainant’s evidence years before the hearing took place? Why did it take the defence lawyer making the complainant confess in court for them to do so?
Contrary to what people are speculating about AGC protecting the complainant by not charging her with perjury, I am more of the view that the AGC is protecting its own skin in doing so.
Who knows if it would be revealed during the perjury hearing of the complainant that the prosecution or police, for example, had only conducted one round of interview with the complainant — without any double-checking on their end — to conclude that the charges can be successfully brought against Dr Yeo?
With what transpired from the Parti Liyani case, Dr Yeo’s case, and many others’ ongoing cases that have yet to come to the public’s attention, it can be said that AGC under the leadership of Mr Lucien Wong — who was re-appointed when he was 67, beyond the age of retirement for Attorney-General of 60-years-old — has slipped to standards that are beyond redemption.
The instances of the complainant’s admissions where she provided false evidence.
- The complainant’s evidence was that Dr Yeo molested her by touching her breasts with his palms facing outwards. She later agreed under cross-examination that it was impossible for Dr Yeo to have done so as he was standing behind her.
- The complainant testified that when Dr Yeo molested her, she raised her arms up towards the ceiling to try and get away from him. She also physically demonstrated this in Court. She later agreed under cross-examination that despite having no actual recollection of this (i.e., raising her arms towards the ceiling), she was nevertheless prepared to say and demonstrate this to the Court.
- She admitted that when she told the Court that she remembered Dr Yeo resting his hand on her hip, she was telling a lie.
- She admitted that she told the Court things that she did not have any recollection of, and that by doing so she was knowingly giving false evidence in Court. She also admitted that she had lied so many times that she could not remember when she was telling the truth and when she was lying.
- She admitted that the evidence she gave in Court in relation to her movements in the room after Dr Yeo allegedly cupped her breasts was false because she did not have any independent recollection of where she moved to.