'People' told him to throw hammer at PM, says man

A man who claimed he was instructed to throw a hammer at Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and threatened to "stage an attack" on him in four Facebook messages was found guilty of criminal intimidation yesterday. Tan Yeong Hong, 33, also pleaded guilty to two counts of hurting two policemen.

The court heard how Tan, whose case will be heard again next Thursday, believed he had been approached 10 years ago by a Chinese man who told him to pass "data" to the PM. At about 8pm on June 24, he went to Mr Lee's Meet-the-People (MPS) session to hand him an article he had typed. Tan had a black haversack containing a hammer. But Mr Lee did not turn up.

Just before 9pm that night, Tan sent the four threatening messages to Mr Lee's Facebook account.

"Eh, you challenged me to visit your MPS but you are not here. I will find and stage an attack on you when I have information on your public appearances. You know who I am," posted Tan, who included his IC and mobile phone numbers.

Tan, who was found to be suffering from paranoid schizophrenia at the time of the offence, claimed in court he had been prompted by "people" who had planted surveillance devices in his house.

"The people" told him to find Mr Lee and throw a hammer at him.

Tan then checked Mr Lee's Teck Ghee ward Facebook page to determine his next public appearance.

His parents told the police he was a violent person who always carried a knife in his bag. When four officers approached him at his block in Hougang Avenue 1 on June 25, Tan punched one and elbowed another.

A search of his home uncovered a bag containing a hammer, a chopper and several knives. There was also a piece of paper in the bedroom listing Mr Lee's public appearances.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Andre Chong called for a jail sentence of between 18 and 23 months. Tan, who did not have a lawyer, said in mitigation: "I did not know that the charges are so severe."

District Judge Mathew Joseph said it was in the interests of justice and fairness that Tan be assigned a court-appointed lawyer.

Tan could be jailed for two years and fined for criminal intimidation. For hurting a public servant he could be jailed for seven years and fined and caned.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2015, with the headline ''People' told him to throw hammer at PM, says man'. Print Edition | Subscribe