Man gets 12-month day reporting order for threatening to burn Legal Aid Bureau

SINGAPORE - A man was placed on a 12-month day reporting order on Friday for threatening to burn the Legal Aid Bureau office down.

Alex Goh Boon Tiong, 53, had gone to the office along Maxwell Road on July 4 last year at around 3.30pm, to request for a letter to facilitate his rental flat application with the Housing Development Board.

The customer service officer who attended to Goh told him that his request could not be met. Goh, unhappy with the decision, proceeded to sit in the waiting area.

At around 5pm, upon noticing Goh still in the waiting area, the bureau's senior manager contacted his social counsellor by phone and passed the phone to him.

Midway through the conversation, Goh got up and put down the phone.

He went to the service counter to take a feedback form and threatened to burn it with his lighter. Raising his voice, he said: "I want to burn the office."

He clicked the lighter several times but no sparks emerged from it.

Alarmed, the senior manager told him to stop and called the police.

In mitigation, Goh's lawyer said he had developmental issues, epilepsy and cerebral palsy. In addition, marital problems, low EQ and anger management problems made him vulnerable, he said.

District Judge Matthew Joseph said in passing sentence that he considered the accused's physical and psychological issues.

"What you did on the fourth of July is totally unacceptable. It would have caused fear to other members of the public," he added.

He added that a Day Reporting Order would be appropriate as it would address the root cause of the problem, with psychological counselling for the accused.

Goh will have to report regularly to a centre run by the Singapore Prison Service for supervision and counselling. He will also be electronically monitored and has to be in his home from 10pm to 6am.

For criminal intimidation, he could have faced up to two years in jail with a fine. For threatening to cause the destruction of property by fire, he could have been jailed for seven years or more.

miranday@sph.com.sg