Sunday Times, Sep 17, 2006When I was a DPP, my favourite kind of case was where I was convinced that the criminal had done a very bad thing and was an utterly wicked, evil person. Then I could step into court, hold nothing back and prosecute him to the best of my ability. Which is to say, mercilessly.
Scholar charged with attempted murder
Man accused of pushing ex-girlfriend off platform said to be depressed at the time
By Selina Lum
AN ASEAN scholarship holder with a double degree possibly faces a lifetime in jail for allegedly attempting to murder his former girlfriend by pushing her off a train platform.
Kwong Kok Hing, 26, was yesterday charged with intending to kill Miss Low Siew Mui, 26, on Thursday evening by pushing her onto the train tracks at Clementi MRT station.
The court was also told that Kwong, a Singapore permanent resident from Malaysia, has been suffering from depression.
Kwong's lawyer told District Judge Marvin Bay that he has been undergoing psychiatric treatment at Raffles Hospital.
Mr Shashi Nathan also said Kwong's psychiatrist had suggested that he was suffering from 'reactive psychosis' at the time of the station incident. Reactive psychosis is a sudden display of psychotic behaviour prompted by a stressful event.
As he stood in the dock yesterday, the bespectacled man seemed nervous, occasionally glancing at his parents in the public gallery.
They had travelled here from Petaling Jaya earlier this week because of his depression. They declined to speak to reporters.
Kwong, the eldest of three children, came to Singapore as an Asean scholarship holder. He studied at the National University of Singapore and worked at a local bank.
He is believed to have suffered depression because of relationship problems.
Kwong is accused of pushing Miss Low on the back with both his hands. His action caused her to fall onto the tracks and into the path of an oncoming west-bound train, it is alleged.
Police had studied footage from a CCTV camera which captured the incident.
Miss Low narrowly escaped death. She picked herself up and ran to the other side of the tracks when she realised the platform was too high for her to climb up in time.
She managed to steady herself as the train whizzed past her. She suffered cuts and bruises to her arms and legs from the fall.
Several commuters caught Kwong and pinned him down until police arrived.
If convicted of attempted murder, Kwong faces life imprisonment and caning. He has been remanded at the Institute of Mental Health for psychiatric examination and will return to court on Sept 29.
I used to call these cases the "Evil Mosquito" cases. The reason is that I feel only glee, and no remorse whatsoever, whenever I smack a mosquito and turn it into a dead, disgusting splotch of blood. I got the same feeling in court, whenever I had to prosecute anyone who, in my view, deserved the very worst that the law could possibly do to him.
In reality, however, "Evil Mosquito" cases are very rare. In fact, they were so rare that I eventually quit the DPP job - for I felt compassion for criminals much more often than I felt distaste. The biggest lesson I learned from my DPP days is that criminals are human beings, just like you and me. Alter a few key factors or events in the story of your life, and you might jolly well have become a criminal too. A sad story often lies behind the act of some apparently nasty criminal.
Take the case of Kwong Kok Hing. From his profile, it's quite unlikely that he has ever committed any other serious offence in his life. Now on that fateful day, if things had happened differently - for example, if his girlfriend had said, "Let's break up, goodbye, I'm flying off tomorrow" and then just left the country without telling him where she was going - Kwong would have wallowed in his depression for six months, maybe he would have gotten some pills and counselling, and then he'd recover and life would just move on.
Hey, many of us have been dumped, in the stories of our respective lives - it hurts, but we recover and we move on too. In time, we look at our earlier romances and we might even think, "Thank goodness she dumped me. Boy, were we NOT compatible."
But no, she and him had to be there, at the MRT station, and he had to say THAT to her, and she had to say THAT to him, and then they just had to be standing THERE, and in that split second, he had to do THAT incredibly dumb thing ..... and now, he faces life imprisonment. While she's probably suffering from post-traumatic stress- disorderly recurring nightmares every night, of being squashed by an oncoming train.
By the way, that Siew Mui lady - good, sharp thinking in a situation of life & death. To have the presence of mind to run to the other side of the track. I think many others in her shoes would have panicked and screamed and kept jumping and trying to get up the platform.
I'll be tracking this case because I'm interested to see how the "reactive psychosis" defence holds up in court.
Technorati: Singapore; law; crime.