Rag-and-bone man, 71, jailed for defacing bus stop advertisement boards

SINGAPORE - A 71-year-old man was jailed for six weeks on Monday for mischief when he defaced public and private property last month.

Loh Thiam Hock, unemployed, was originally charged with vandalism. He pleaded guilty to four amended charges of defacing advertisement boards at bus stops and one of defacing a transformer box on May 22.

Fourteen other similar charges were taken into consideration.

Loh had used an indelible black marker to write: "We support CPF Blogger, Return our CPF Money R/AC & M/AC, Above 65 yrs Bal $5000 in M/AC'', knowing that he was likely to cause wrongful loss to MediaCorp and SP PowerGrid.

The bus stops were along Clemenceau Avenue, River Valley Road and Hill Street.

Investigation showed that Loh had, on May 21, read a newspaper article relating to the Central Provident Fund (CPF).

He read that blogger Roy Ngerng , then a health-care worker, had removed a blog post accusing the Government of "misappropriating" CPF funds, a day after he was asked to do so by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's lawyer.

He then decided to carry out his acts - writing indiscriminately on various private and public properties without authorisation from their owners.

From 2.35pm to 7pm, he committed numerous acts of mischief.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Lai, who asked the court to impose one to three months' jail, said the acts were numerous and committed near the Central Business District where there was high pedestrian traffic. They were committed on multiple surfaces, at various locations and at positions which were highly visible to the general public. This included bus stop advertisement boards, stone chairs, walkway parapets and even a transformer box.

Pleading for leniency, Lai said he was a rag-and-bone man and has had no proper place to live in for the past 10 years. He said he had lost his mother when he was eight.

District Judge Lim Keng Yeow told Loh that it was clearly unacceptable for him to express his views by unlawful means. He noted Loh has borderline to average range of intellectual functioning and ordered a Community Court conference to explore post-sentencing referral for him. Loh could have been jailed for up to one year and/or fined on each charge.

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