IT company boss gets short detention order for hurting and abusing worker

Lee Yew Nam (above) had admitted to four charges of causing hurt to Mr Calvin Chan Meng Hock.
Lee Yew Nam (above) had admitted to four charges of causing hurt to Mr Calvin Chan Meng Hock.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - An IT company manager was sentenced on Friday (April 1) to a 10-day short detention order - a community sentence that carries no criminal record - for hurting and abusing his intern.

Lee Yew Nam, 45, had admitted to four charges of causing hurt to Mr Calvin Chan Meng Hock, now 32, at his Jurong Town Hall Road office in 2013. Two other charges were taken into consideration.

In proceedings before Friday, the court had heard in mitigation that Lee suffered from a major depressive disorder. However, expert witnesses agreed that the disorder is not an impulse control disorder and that Lee had control over how he reacts even in stressful situations.

District Judge Lim Tse Haw said he was prepared to accept that Lee was suffering from some form of depressive disorder. But he could not ignore the fact that what the manager of Encore E-Services had done was serious.

 

The judge said: "As a responsible employer, he has a duty to have regard for the well-being and welfare of his employees.

"Instead, he subjected the victim to physical hurt and verbal abuse on numerous occasions from January to May of 2013."

He sentenced Lee to short detention order after finding insufficient cause to call for a mandatory treatment order report.

He agreed with the prosecution that employees, in particular those in the lower rank positions, are vulnerable and need to be protected from violence or abuse by employers.

He noted that the hurt caused and abuse inflicted in this case were not isolated. It started on one occasion sometime between July 2010 and January 2011, and continued on another five occasions in 2013.

The abuse came to light only when a fellow intern secretly recorded the incident on May 15, 2013, using his mobile phone. The video showed Lee punching Mr Chan.

The judge said: "A strong message must be conveyed to all employers that such brutish behaviour has no place in our civilised society.

"It must be made clear to all employers that an employee, no matter how low his position in the company is, is an important member of the company and not a punching bag, not even for stressed out employers."

Defence counsel Sunil Sudheesan and Diana Ngiam had said in mitigation that Lee suffered from major depressive disorder that contributed to his offending behaviour. Thus, treatment should have been the primary focus for him.

Lee, who was allowed to defer sentence until April 8, could have been jailed for up to two years and fined up to $5,000 per charge.