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Turns out we’ve been sentencing some sex offenders wrongly

This week: It turns out that the courts have been applying a mistaken sentencing approach in a series of sexual assault cases, and we’re back to the same old arguments about a minimum wage in Singapore.

This week flew by, but I’ve still got my exercise streak going, which is a bloody miracle. 😎 Also, last night I found out that my current favouritest group ever is coming to perform at the Indoor Stadium next year, so I’m getting that piggy bank out to start saving for tickets. The only stadium concert I’ve ever been to was when Muse came to Singapore ages ago — my brother really wanted to go so my mum brought us — so I’m getting very excited about the idea of going to a big-ass concert of my own choosing… yes, I will be 34 years old soon, why do you ask?

Sex offenders and sentencing

This past week the High Court ruled in the appeal of a man convicted of sexually assaulting a minor under the age of 14, reducing his sentence from six years and three strokes of the cane to three-and-a-half years in prison. The man, who isn’t named, had had sex with a young girl when she was around 13–14 years old and he was 28. According to his lawyers, she had consented to the sexual activity, but the age of consent in Singapore is 16, so she wasn’t legally able to consent to sex anyway.

That said, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon observed that the sentencing framework hadn’t been correctly applied in a series of similar cases, which worked out in the perpetrators’ favour by giving them lighter sentences than they should have received. He therefore prospectively overruled those past cases, clarifying the sentencing framework that should be used in future cases. But because that only applies to future cases, this guy’s sentence was reduced to match those sentenced under the wrong approach.

The PAP’s ongoing opposition to the minimum wage

It feels like we have to circle back to this subject every year or two. Singapore famously doesn’t have a national minimum wage. The ruling party has consistently insisted that setting a minimum wage isn’t suitable for Singapore, that it will undermine our ability to compete economically, that businesses might then hire fewer people and cause more unemployment…

Future prime minister Lawrence Wong sang from this hymn sheet last Saturday at a workshop for the Alliance for Action for Lower-Wage Workers, warning about “unintended consequences” of a minimum wage. One of these potential consequences (apart from the one about companies hiring fewer people) that he cited was *checks notes* that the benefits of a minimum wage might go to young people from rich families who take on minimum wage work.

I get that the PAP doesn’t like the minimum wage. But why must we be subjected to this sort of rationalisation?

Firstly, how common is it for rich kids to suddenly decide that they want to spend their time performing minimum wage labour? And even if some rich kids do decide that they’re going to become minimum wage workers, so what? Are we really going to withhold a minimum wage from all workers just because a fraction of their number might not actually need the money? Also, anyone who works deserves to be paid fairly and adequately for their labour!

Seriously why liddat 😑

Got some more…

👨🏻‍💻 New measures under the Code of Practice for Online Safety and the Content Code for Social Media Services are set to be rolled out early next year. (They’re still going to be debated in Parliament, but we know how that’s going to go.) They’ll require social media companies to implement safety standards for sexual and violent content, as well as content that involves self-harm, cyber-bullying, vice and organised crime, or endangers public health. The Infocomm Media Development Authority will also be granted the power to direct social media companies to block “objectionable accounts” or content. We’re going to need to see how that’s defined and worded.

🧑🏽‍⚖️ Hri Kumar Nair was a PAP MP until 2015, when he decided to retire from politics. In 2017, he was appointed Deputy Attorney-General, serving in the Attorney-General’s Chambers alongside Lucien Wong (who had at one point been Lee Hsien Loong’s personal lawyer while he was in private practice). From January 2023, Nair will become a High Court judge, and Wong will continue as AG until 2026.

✈️ Fighter jets had to escort a Singapore Airlines flight from San Francisco on Wednesday because a 37-year-old guy on board made a bomb threat. It turned out to be a false alarm, and the man was arrested.

What’s happening in the region?

🇲🇲 After the coup, elephant handlers working for the Forest Department decided to go on strike and join the resistance, taking up arms to fight against the repressive and brutal military junta. Doing this, though, meant that they had to leave their beloved elephants behind. In one national park, though, there have been happy reunions as the People’s Defence Force forced military troops to withdraw and took over the park. The handlers have thus been able to care for their elephants once again, and now the gentle giants are also working for the revolution, doing things like carrying timber to rebuild houses that had been destroyed. 🐘

I'd like to close this week's newsletter with this haunting song in solidarity with the protesters in Iran: