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Singapore: Swiss national to be caned for train vandalism

Categories: East Asia, Singapore, Law

On June 25th 2010, Oliver Fricker, 32, was sentenced to three strokes of the cane and five months in prison after he pleaded guilty to breaking into a Singapore train depot last month and vandalism for spraying the words “McKoy Banos” across two carriages (a video of the graffiti [2] has been widely shared in blogs and forums).

He was accompanied at the time by with a man identified as Lloyd Dane Alexander, a Briton, who was in Singapore for just three days, according to the prosecution. Singapore has sought the extradition of Alexander, who it said was last believed to be in Hong Kong.

Legal and analysis blogger, Right Juris [3], wrote that foreigners should abide by the rules of the country they are in:

While not an advocate of caning, stoning and other forms of violence, I understand that it is necessary at times to protect the people and their property. No one chooses to be a victim of crime, minor or otherwise—-that decision is made by the criminal.

Singaporean socio-political blogger, Kristen Han [4], denounced the sentence as ‘completely sickening’ and labelled Singapore a ‘Global Torture Hub’ :

It is completely sickening. I can’t believe that we are going to inflict such an archaic and utterly barbaric punishment for such a petty crime that did not even hurt anyone (and almost went undetected). It is so completely overblown – and I’m not saying this because he is a foreigner. It is completely overblown as a punishment for anyone, and it disgusts me that my country would do something like this to a person, and think it NECESSARY.

Singaporean blogger, Roger Poh [5], called the caning ‘demeaning and barbaric’, and also slammed Singapore's aspirations to be a kinder and caring society:

Caning is demeaning and barbaric, often leaving permanent scars as caning is inflicted on bare buttocks.
Caning has no place in modern, civilised societies.
Singapore from time to time makes stirring declarations that it wants to be a kinder and more gracious society. Unless we abolish caning, this aspiration is merely lip service.