Man who attacked 3 madrasah girls jailed

Facade of Madrasah Al-Maarif Al-Islamiah school building.
Facade of Madrasah Al-Maarif Al-Islamiah school building. ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

Security officer gets 6 months' jail for kicking and hitting them in racially motivated act

A security officer who made more than 300 police reports since 2008, mostly against people of other races, was jailed for six months yesterday for hurting two young madrasah students.

Koh Weng Onn, 48, pleaded guilty to kicking a 16-year-old girl on her thigh in a racially aggravated act. He also swung a plastic bag with a filled water bottle at a 14-year-old girl, and hit her in the face. A charge of hurting another 14-year-old girl by a rash act was taken into account.

District Judge Mathew Joseph said Koh had committed an unprovoked act of violence against three young Malay girls. "While an act of violence injures the victim, an act of racial or religious violence injures the victim and wounds the conscience of our society. It is, therefore, in the public interest to impose an appropriate sentence that would deter similar behaviour," he said.

He agreed with the prosecution that given the current climate of intensified religious and racial sensitivities, it was even more important to ensure that any attempt to fracture the social compact is dealt with decisively. "Any person who causes hurt to another because of race or religion should feel the full force of the law," he added.

On April 1 this year, Koh, wearing a pair of black boots, kicked the 16-year-old girl on her right thigh in Paya Lebar Road, while she was on her way to school. When she turned to look at him, he uttered a Hokkien vulgarity. The girl later broke down when she reached school.

A minute later, Koh swung the plastic bag at the 14-year-old girl. He then entered Paya Lebar MRT station and swung the plastic bag at another girl, also aged 14.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ang Feng Qian said Koh hit young Malay girls as he believed they might not know what to do compared with older people, who would likely call the police immediately.

Koh, who was diagnosed with a delusional disorder at the time of the offences, said he started to have a bad impression of Malays after a group of Malays hit him some years ago.

DPP Ang said the night before the attacks, Koh was involved in a dispute with some Malay cyclists. The police were called and the parties apologised to each other.

Koh's lawyer Sunil Sudheesan said Koh was very sorry for what he had done. He said treatment had begun for Koh's mental illness and the medication was working.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 21, 2016, with the headline 'Man who attacked 3 madrasah girls jailed'. Print Edition | Subscribe