Indonesian student, 26, jailed for touching woman's buttock with his groin on MRT

Irfan Syanjaya, 26, was convicted on Tuesday of outraging a woman's modesty on an MRT train. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE 
Irfan Syanjaya, 26, was convicted on Tuesday of outraging a woman's modesty on an MRT train. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE 

SINGAPORE - An Indonesian PhD student was convicted on Tuesday of outraging a woman's modesty on an MRT train.

Irfan Syanjaya, 26, had been taking the train from Buona Vista to Jurong East on Aug 12 last year, when he deliberately stood close behind the 20-year-old student to do so.

He was sentenced to six weeks' jail following a two-day trial.

The court heard that although the train was crowded at first as it was the evening peak period, it grew more empty after leaving Dover station. Nevertheless, Irfan continued to stand close to the victim even though there was space to move away.

She confronted Irfan, who apologised. Other commuters came forward to help and he was detained by security officers at Jurong East MRT.

During the trial, Irfan, who was unrepresented, maintained that he had touched the victim accidentally.

He had admitted during police investigations earlier to intentionally touching her, but denied this in court.

When asked why he kept standing so close to her, he said through a translator: "She seemed to have no negative thoughts about me so I did not move away.

"I assumed she had no problem about me standing where I was."

Three witnesses who had been in the same carriage testified that they had seen Irfan make deliberate contact with the victim, even after she tried to avoid him.

One, Ms Nur Sharida Md Farok, said Irfan was standing close enough to whisper into her ear.

Another, Mr Johan Tay, said it was obvious that he had been inching towards the victim. He said he had tried to stop it from happening by putting his bag in between Irfan and the victim, but that Irfan had persisted.

At the time, Irfan was doing a PhD in electrical and computer engineering at the National University of Singapore.

For using criminal force to outrage the victim's modesty, Irfan could have been jailed for up to two years, fined, caned, or any combination of the three.

oliviaho@sph.com.sg