Are there indeed two laws for the rich and poor in Singapore? Bloggers say yes
A plastic surgeon with the unlikely name of Woffles Wu has sparked an online row about whether Singapore’s justice system is biased in favor of the wealthy. To many of the island nation’s increasingly feisty citizens, the government’s denials have been less than convincing.
The curious case of Woffles Wu Tze Liang began with two speeding tickets. In September 2005, a motor vehicle registered to Wu was caught on a speed camera to be driving at 95 kilometers per hour on Lornie Road, which had a posted speed of 70. In November 2006, a Wu vehicle was clocked at 91 kilometers per hour on Adam Road, which had the same speed limit.
Per the nation’s automated ticketing program, the authorities sent a letter to Wu demanding to know who was driving on those occasions. Unlike the jurisdictions which protect a person’s right to remain silent in the face of criminal accusations, Section 81 of the Singapore Road Traffic Act requires people to disclose evidence in response to official requests for information about moving violations. Failure to disclose information is itself a criminal offense.
In response, Wu allegedly concocted a cover up. In an attempt to avoid paying a fine and having demerit points charged to his driver’s license, Wu convinced an elderly maintenance technician on his payroll, the then-76-year-old Kuan Kit Wah, to falsely take the rap and claim that he was driving the vehicle at the time.
Wu was eventually caught in the lie and charged with abetting a violation of the disclosure provisions of the Road Traffic Act, a crime with a maximum penalty of SG$1,000 or six month in prison or both. Wu was not charged with making false statements to a government official, a violation of Penal Code section 182 that carries a maximum sentence of S$5,000 or one year in prison or both. At a hearing in the Subordinate Courts on June 12, Wu was sentenced to a S$1,000 fine.
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