Caning an American

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Again America is in the spotlight.

For the few who have not been following the news, an American was charged for overstaying in Singapore by 169 days after his 90-day social visit pass expired.

Note: These comments are made in my personal capacity and not in any professional capacity – readers are advised to read the Disclaimer Clause

Under section 15(3) of Immigration Act, “where he (immigrant) remains unlawfully for a period exceeding 90 days, shall on conviction be punished with imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months and shall also, subject to section 231 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), be punished with caning with not less than 3 strokes, or where by virtue of that section he is not punishable with caning, he shall, in lieu of caning, be punished with a fine not exceeding $6,000. The exceptions under section 231 of CPC to punishment by caning are (1) women, (2) males sentenced to death, or (3) males above age 50.

Firstly, if he is convicted, he would be first American to be caned after 16 years. Although, it is possible for a commutation of the American’s potential sentence to a fine as it had been previous done by the local courts for an individual who overstayed by 194 days.

The newspapers as usual are having blast about this.Unfortunate incidents such as this are used by the “free media” to publish their propaganda about how “Overstay your visa in Singapore and you’re subjected to a 6th century form of punishment” or caning is inhuman describing the process “People are strapped to a wooden frame and lashed across the bare buttocks with a long rattan stick

Apparently, he was arrested by the local authorities on an Interpol alert that the accused was wanted on allegations of money laundering and running a phone-scam operation in Australia. Only after his arrest did the issue of overstaying became evident so the alleged “discrimination” behavior by local authorities are wholly unfounded.  From investigations, it is alleged that there were calls made from Kamari Charlton’s mobile phone in March 2010 that deceived Mirko Prskalo into sending $17,145 in four payments so he also faces potential charges for cheating (if convicted can get up to 10 years)

The interesting thing about this case is that everyone is so fixated about the concept of caning as mode of punishment that they forgotten to notice that:

  • He is accused of money laundering and cheating
  • He was offered bail but he refused to pay it (not couldn’t) so remaining in prison by choice.
  • Ignorance to the law is no excuse especially when his own wife’s relative was fined ($500) for overstaying in Singapore before.
  • His previous lawyer; notice how often this lawyer has taken cases such as this the last few months for reasons I do not intend to express here. Anyways, for better or for worst the accused did change counsel.

Leaving aside the moral dilemmas about caning; I think US Embassy in Singapore was correct in stating that “We respect Singapore’s right to try and sentence individuals within due process of law.”

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