SINGAPORE: Law Minister K. Shanmugam responded to comments that the sentence meted out to plastic surgeon Dr Woffles Wu was too lenient.
Dr Wu was fined S$1,000 on Wednesday for abetting Mr Kuan Yit Wah, then 76, to provide misleading information to the police in November 2006.
The car belonging to Dr Wu, was travelling at 91 kilometers per hour (kmph) on Adam Road when the speed limit is 70kmph.
Mr Shanmugam said the incident raises four questions.
Firstly, why Dr Wu was charged under section 81(3) of the Road Traffic Act; secondly why abetment; thirdly why he was given a fine; and lastly why there was a lapse of six years before Dr Wu was taken to task.
Mr Shanmugam explained that the offence was committed in 2006 when section 204 of the Penal Code had not been enacted yet.
The usual practice at the time was that a person would be charged under Section 81(3)
As for why Dr Wu was charged with abetment, Mr Shanmugam said the 52—year—old "did not make the misleading statements himself."
The minister said the statements in question were made by Mr Kuan, which was why the charge could only be that of abetment.
Mr Shanmugam stressed that investigations are ongoing, as to who the driver actually was and that the case has not been concluded.
He said the decision to prosecute was made by the Attorney—General’s Chambers (AGC) and that it is independent in making those decisions.
As for sentencing, Mr Shanmugam said the courts make that decision and a fine is apparently "within the norm of usual sentences" under that charge.
Noting that there have been cases where the offender was jailed, the law minister said based on information provided by the Attorney—General’s Chambers (AGC), fines are more commonly meted out.
Mr Shanmugam added the reasons for the findings will not be known until there is a written judgement from the court.
And only if and when there is one, he said one can only guess at the reasons for the judgement.
In this case, he said there’s no evidence of any money passing hands.
He added that Mr Kuan was also not charged and that could have been because the AGC took into account the fact that Mr Kuan is now over 80 years of age.
As for why it took six years for Dr Wu to be prosecuted, Mr Shanmugam said the police were unaware of the offences at that time.
He said information was received only much later through a complaint to the AGC, made "more recently".
Once the complaint was received, authorities investigated and thereafter the AGC decided to charge Dr Wu.
Mr Shanmugam’s comments were made on the sidelines of a community event.
In a blog post, MP for Bishan—Toa Payoh GRC Hri Kumar Nair said such offences are serious and that others who had been convicted of similar offences had been jailed.
He said Mr Shanmugam has answered some of the public’s questions on the case.
But it may be useful, Mr Hri said, if the public could understand why some cases involve jail terms while some only received fines.
Turning to the case of the 25—year—old, dubbed the sticker—lady, who was arrested for vandalism, Mr Shanmugam said there are no hard and fast rules on what’s considered art on public buildings.
He said the government must look at the consensus of the majority and how the majority would like society to be structured.
Charges have yet to be filed on sticker—lady, Samantha Lo.
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