SINGAPORE - An appeal for an lighter sentence by Chan Chun Hong - the first person in Singapore to be convicted of organising an overseas tour for commercial sex with a minor - was dismissed on Wednesday (April 20) by the High Court.
Chan, a former Singapore Armed Forces captain also known as Chris, is serving a jail term of four years and eight months, handed down by a district court in April last year.
The 32-year-old diagnosed paedophile had pleaded guilty to 12 of 145 charges - seven of transmitting obscene materials, one of making travel plans for an undercover cop to have paid sex with a minor in Cambodia, three of distributing information intended to promote child-sex tourism, and one for having obscene films.
Chan appealed against the individual sentences on four charges - one of organising a child-sex tour and three of distributing information to promote child-sex tourism.
On Wednesday, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon concluded that, apart from that for one charge, the sentences imposed were not manifestly excessive.
He reduced the sentence, from 20 months to 12 months, for the charge of distributing information to promote child-sex tourism. But this did not impact the overall sentence as this jail term was ordered to run concurrently with two other sentences.
He set a benchmark sentence of 2½ years' jail as a starting point for ad-hoc or opportunistic sex-tour organisers who knowingly make travel arrangements for a prospective child-sex tourist in circumstances such as the current case, where there was no profit motive.
CJ Menon noted that Chan's jail term for organising a child-sex tour could justifiably be higher but, as the prosecution did not appeal, he would not disturb the sentence.
He rejected arguments by Chan that he deserved a lighter sentence, citing, among other things, entrapment and his diagnosis of paedophilia.
The CJ emphasised that a strong deterrent message must be sent to all would-be offenders so as to protect vulnerable child victims from suffering irreparable harm as a result of being trapped in the sex trade.
"Sending countries" must curb demand for child sex tourism from within their borders through legislation and robust enforcement, he said.