ST Oct 27, 2005So Bala is now a judge. Heheh. He was formerly one of the most senior DPPs around, and one of my bosses. In fact Bala was the one who assigned to me the case of The Rape That Never Was, years ago.
3rd racist blogger convicted but may avoid jail term
Teen pleads guilty to two charges; probation being considered due to his age and clean record
By Chong Chee Kin
PRIVATE school student Gan Huai Shi yesterday became the third person this year to be convicted for making racist remarks on the Internet, but he may yet avoid a jail term on account of his age and clean record.
The 17-year-old San Yu Adventist School student faced seven charges of sedition, four more than animal shelter assistant Benjamin Koh, who was jailed for one month on Oct 7.
Gan pleaded guilty to two counts of sedition for comments he made on his blog, or Internet journal, which he titled The Second Holocaust. Another five charges were taken into consideration.
But instead of handing down a jail term, District Judge Bala Reddy called for a pre-sentencing report to see if Gan could be placed on probation.
As a DPP, Bala Reddy was somewhat of a hardliner. Contrary to popular belief, not all DPPs are hardliners - Mr Wang was a real softie for example - but Bala was definitely a hardliner, and a longtime practitioner. If you drew up a list of the 10 DPPs in Singapore history who have gotten the largest number of drug traffickers hanged, Bala would probably feature somewhere right up there on the list.
(By the way, Mr Wang has never hanged anyone or anything except his laundry. No bad karma for me, thank you very much.)
However, it's difficult to say what Bala would be like as a judge. I've seen individuals morph a lot, when they change appointments within the Legal Service. Hardliner DPPs can become softie judges; softie judges can become hardliner DPPs; softie DPPs can become softie judges; all permutations are possible.
Gan caused a furore when between April and July this year he posted a series of offensive comments about Malays - even admitting in one April 4 entry that he was 'extremely racist'.Heheh, I know Jaswant too. He's quite a senior DPP too. A sensible fellow. By now, he must have evolved into one of the pillars of the Attorney-General's Chambers. Looks like AGC is well aware of the sensitivities of the case and has decided to put one of its top guys on the case.
Over the next three months, he made more inflammatory remarks mocking the Malay community and ridiculing their religion, which were deemed by the court to promote 'ill will and hostility' between races, an offence under the Sedition Act.
Between Aug 5 and 10 this year, three students and an engineer reported Gan's remarks to the police.
In court yesterday, Gan kept his head bowed and his hands behind his back, fidgeting nervously in the dock as Deputy Public Prosecutor Jaswant Singh repeated what he had written in his blog.
His parents looked on impassively from the public gallery.
But after Gan had been convicted, his lawyer Edmond Pereira delivered an impassioned speech in his defence, urging the court to consider his youth and clean record and spare him a prison sentence.And guess what? The defence lawyer - Edmond Pereira - well, he was an ex-district judge too, AND an ex-DPP before that. Heheh. Well, well, well. it's like musical chairs. Now he runs his own firm. Edmond is a nice fellow. Gracious. With ethics. Oh, and long ago, when he was a young fellow, he represented Singapore in athletics. I think he was a national sprinter.
Now this is interesting. This is an unusual mitigating factor. If the judge is inclined to give a mild sentence, this offers good justification. If you just give the run-of-the-mill excuses, it's often difficult for the judge to reduce your sentence very much, because everyone gives the run-of-the-mill excuses. Every mother will always say that her son is actually a good boy.
Mr Pereira explained that Gan's deep-seated ill feeling towards the Malay community stemmed from the traumatic death of his baby brother 10 years ago, which Gan blamed on a Malay couple.
The couple had refused to give up a taxi they had hailed when his mother was trying to rush the infant to hospital.
Gan and his parents were visibly relieved when the judge agreed with Mr Pereira's request to consider the possibility of putting the teenager on probation. The teen, who is sitting for his O-level examinations, will return to court on Nov 23, a day after the exams end.So we'll wait and see.
It is then that a decision on his sentence will be announced.