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Singaporeans decry judge’s move to spare NUS student from jail


30 September 2019

Last week, Terence Siow, a student from the National University of Singapore pleaded guilty to one charge of outrage of modesty. He was sentenced to 21 months of supervised probation with conditions, including the performance of 150 hours of community service.

The prosecution had sought an imprisonment term of 6 weeks.

Reporting on the matter, South China Morning Post sought the views of Chooi Jing Yen, who commented that Singapore’s sentencing regime placed emphasis on the principle of rehabilitation, and how young offenders could still be turned away from a life of crime and not “become hardened” by spending time in prison with other offenders.

The overarching consideration was whether the offender had potential for rehabilitation…that the older the perpetrator, the harder it would be to be granted probation.

This of course must be balanced against the other three principles of deterrence and retribution. When the public imagination is seized by a particular case, the arguments usually engage the retributive principle. But when the courts order probation, they are really engaging the question of whether some good can still be made out of the situation.

The AGC is taking the matter up on appeal.

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