$3,500 fine for online 'open fire' remark

Bryan Lim Sian Yang pleaded guilty to making a threatening, abusive or insulting communication under the Protection from Harassment Act.
Bryan Lim Sian Yang pleaded guilty to making a threatening, abusive or insulting communication under the Protection from Harassment Act.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Comment posted on Facebook had been directed at LGBT community

A man who asked for "permission to open fire" on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in a Facebook post was fined $3,500 yesterday.

Bryan Lim Sian Yang, 37, pleaded guilty in court to an amended charge of making a threatening, abusive or insulting communication under the Protection from Harassment Act (Poha).

District Judge Low Wee Ping said the aggravating factor was his use of the words "open fire" and "die for their causes".

In a June 4 Facebook post on the page of a local group opposed to LGBT rally Pink Dot, Lim wrote: "I am a Singaporean citizen. I am an NSman, I am a father. And I swore to protect my nation.

"Give me the permission to open fire. I would like to see these £@€$^*s die for their causes."

Lim made the comment on the Facebook page of We Are Against Pink Dot In Singapore - a public group with around 7,500 members - in response to a post that expressed unhappiness with multinational corporations sponsoring Pink Dot this year.

Concern over (Lim's) comments grew after a shooting at a gay nightclub in the United States on June 12, which killed 43 people.

At least 13 police reports were lodged after his post was circulated on social media.

Concern over his comment grew after a shooting at a gay nightclub in the United States on June 12, which killed 43 people.

At least 13 police reports were lodged after his post was circulated on social media.

Lim took down his post and apologised online on the night of June 13 after the post went viral.

His lawyer Adrian Wee said the comment was "posted in a moment of folly and heightened emotion".

Lim was initially charged with encouraging violence against LGBT people, which carries a maximum sentence of five years' jail and a fine.

Yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Wong Woon Kwong said Lim's comment was "intended to be read as a threat of violence through gunfire" since he mentioned being an NSman. He said those who lodged police reports said they had been alarmed by the post, "fearing for the safety of themselves and others, in particular those in the LGBT community".

Mr Wee argued that there was no indication Lim had access to firearms and his comment was directed at the foreign intervention.

The prosecution asked for a $4,000 fine, while the defence said it should be between $1,500 and $2,000 since Lim's offence was "at the lower end of the sentencing spectrum". The maximum fine for flouting Section(4)(1)(b) of Poha is $5,000.

District Judge Low said Poha does not prohibit causes but the way that causes can be championed.

He said he could not accept the defence's mitigation due to the aggravating words used.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 05, 2016, with the headline '$3,500 fine for online 'open fire' remark'. Print Edition | Subscribe