Man who said it was his 'constitutional right' to insult 2 foreign workers convicted

SINGAPORE - Two foreign workers were taking shelter from the rain last July when a man berated them with xenophobic insults.

One of the workers recorded a video of Lee Poh Kian's tirade, in which the Singaporean said, among other things: "You enter my country is wrong... This government also illegal. We will get you out."

In his submissions, Deputy Public Prosecutor Sean Teh said that Lee, 56, had felt that he was entitled to use such words against Mr Ratnasingam Jatheesan and Mr Krishnan Karthikeyan because of the "crime situation" and "overcrowding in Singapore caused by foreign nationals".

Court documents did not disclose their nationalities.

District Judge Chay Yuen Fatt on Tuesday (June 14) convicted Lee of two counts of harassment and an offence under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act, as Lee had also failed to wear a mask over his nose and mouth when he approached the men.

The court heard that Mr Ratnasingam and Mr Krishnan were taking measurements in relation to the construction of a linkway in Lorong 5 Toa Payoh on July 12 when it started raining.

The pair were seeking shelter at a nearby corridor when Lee scolded them. Mr Ratnasingam then recorded a video of the incident.

The workers had never interacted with Lee prior to this incident, the court heard.

DPP Teh said that Lee's tirade caused Mr Krishnan to feel upset, stressed and insulted.

The prosecutor added that Mr Ratnasingam felt "very sad and stressed" and "very down".

DPP Teh said that Lee, who was unrepresented by a lawyer, had no valid defence to his charges.

The prosecutor told Judge Chay: "In his defence, he stated the following, most of which fail to hold an iota of logic."

Among other things, Lee had felt that it was his "constitutional right" to express himself to Mr Ratnasingam and Mr Krishnan, as they were "in his residential area".

DPP Teh added: "At no point did the accused make any valid arguments regarding the Constitution to support his case. It is also glaringly obvious that there is no such 'constitutional right'.

"He also stated that if foreign nationals such as (the pair) still come to Singapore despite it being overcrowded, it is 'very illegal'. On the same note, the accused, whilst wholly unprompted, even implicitly referred to himself as xenophobic."

Lee's mitigation and sentencing will take place on June 21.

For each count of harassment, an offender can be jailed for up to six months and fined up to $5,000.

For an offence under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act, a first-time offender can be jailed for up to six months and fined up to $10,000.

A repeat offender can be jailed for up to a year and fined up to $20,000.

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