Six months' jail for man who set fire to Singapore national flag

SINGAPORE - Just one day after he was released from prison, an unemployed man ran foul of the law again by setting fire to the Singapore national flag on June 17.

Maidin Buang, 63, who has schizophrenia and a history of substance abuse, was sentenced to six months' jail on Thursday (Sept 6), after pleading guilty to a mischief charge.

The court heard that he was freed in June for a drug offence on condition he does not commit any crime between June 17 this year and Aug 10 next year as part of his remission order.

Now, he will spend an additional 420 days behind bars - the remainder of his earlier sentence.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Wu Yu Jie told District Judge May Mesenas that Maidin went to Darul Aman Mosque in Jalan Eunos at around 11.30am on June 17 and walked towards its flagpole.

He lowered the Singapore national flag and used a lighter to burn holes in it.

The mosque's caretaker stopped him from further damaging the flag.

DPP Wu said: "The accused told the complainant that 'God' had told him to burn the flag, and then fled the scene. On the same day, at about 3pm, the accused returned to the mosque for prayers. The complainant recognised him and called for police assistance."

Officers detained Maidin.

The DPP said Maidin had "relapsed psychotically" at the time of the offence.

He added: "However, the accused was not of unsound mind at the time of the offence, in that while he was relapsed, he still knew what he was doing and that what he was doing was wrongful. The accused is certified fit to plead."

Defence lawyer Noor Mohamed Marican, who represented Maidin pro bono, told the court his client had forgotten to take his medicine on the day of the offence.

Mr Marican added that Maidin is remorseful. He could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined for causing mischief.