32 Year Old Swiss National Oliver Fricker at Court Today

This is life in Singapore. I think most Singaporeans are awaiting the verdict in this case, but I for one sincerely hope he is let off the hook (I mean spared the flogging bit). I also hope our laws dating to colonial times will be modified as a result.

I hope the verdict is favorable towards him because I don’t think the punishment fits the crime.  He also did us a huge favor exposing the weakness at our MRT security such that it was beefed up after the incident.  Reports say that he is expected to plead guilty. I feel terribly sorry for him and I can’t imagine what he must be going through. They say he appeared emotionless but that’s usually how we appear when we are numbed with fear. Meanwhile Lloyd Dane Alexander has fled and not been caught by Interpol – hopefully he stays lucky.  The case has since been put of to Thursday so we have to wait with baited breath till then to see if there will be any monumental changes to our laws.  This case means a lot to us because we hope it will set a new precedence.

(Credit: Image from Reuters)

(Credit: Latest Images of Oliver Fricker and his lawyer at the Singapore Subordinate Courts, from Getty Images)

Watch Euronews which shows a video of Oliver Fricker going to Court.

A Swiss man accused of vandalism in Singapore faces being caned and jailed for up to three years if convicted.

Oliver Fricker is charged with vandalising a metro train but Human Rights Watch says the punishment is inhumane.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports on it as well and here’s an extract:

Oliver Fricker, 32, appeared in court wearing a white shirt and striped blue tie, ignoring reporters’ questions as he walked into the building for a brief pre-trial session prior to entering his plea on Thursday.

Fricker’s lawyer Derek Kang did not comment on what plea they will enter, but judicial sources familiar with such cases said the Swiss man is expected to enter a guilty plea in the hope of getting a more lenient sentence.

Yahoo Singapore also reports.

In a case that is being keenly watched by both local and foreign media, comparisons are already being made to the Michael Fay incident in 1994.

Fay, then 18, was an American student studying at the Singapore American School. He was subsequently found guilty of stealing road signs and vandalising several cars with spray paint a year earlier. After pleading guilty, he was sentenced to four months in jail, a fine of S$3,500 and six strokes of the cane.

The case catapulted Fay and Singapore into the global media spotlight and then U.S. President Bill Clinton even appealed for clemency on Fay’s behalf. His sentence was eventually reduced to four strokes of the cane by then Singapore President Ong Teng Cheong as a gesture of respect to Clinton.

Fricker’s case raises a sticky dilemma for Singapore and its justice system. On one hand, if his sentence is too light, citizens of the city-state are likely to cry foul and claim double standards when foreigners are found guilty of a crime.

Already, Singaporeans and Malaysians are keenly observing the outcome of a separate fatal hit-and-run case involving Romanian embassy official Dr Silviu Ionescu. Repeated attempts to bring the former charge d’affaires back to a Singapore court to face charges have so far proven unsuccessful.

On the other hand, if Fricker’s sentencing is too harsh, Singapore is likely to face a backlash from foreign media and human rights watchdogs who are likely to slam its draconian corporal punishment laws.

The damage, from a public relations point of view, to a country that is openly courting rich foreign investors to become Permanent Residents and Singapore citizens may also be considerable.

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Blogging about life in Singapore helps me survive the mid-life crisis
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6 Responses to 32 Year Old Swiss National Oliver Fricker at Court Today

  1. 365days2play says:

    I sincerely hope that he will receive the same punishment as any other Singaporean would had a Singaporean been the culprit. He must not be let off simply because he is a foreigner. Rules are rules and people should not assume and even act as if the law will be waived.

    I agree that caning is too severe for a crime like vandalism, but how about caning for breaking into property? How would one like it if someone broke into one’s house and destroyed some of the stuff.

    In any case, if they abolish this punishment, that is for future generations to benefit. It should not be retroactive.

    I also don’t understand why he should have any fear? He knew the consequences when he committed the crime.

    • bookjunkie says:

      I guess i am a real softie…don’t leave your kids with me…i don’t do discipline 🙂

      i do agree that everyone should be treated fairly though….no double standards for citizens vs non-citizens. but i do wish it would be fine/ jail instead of flogging for vandalism.

      I wonder if he was fully aware of the law….it would be incredibly stupid if he was aware of how harsh, almost brutal our laws are…I am assuming he didn’t know?

  2. Kirsten says:

    I sincerely hope that he doesn’t get caned, because it is barbaric, archaic and torture. It completely flies in the face of modern standards of human rights!

    And yes, there is the issue of not letting him off easy because he is a foreigner while locals are getting flogged to within an inch of their lives just because they haven’t got a government to speak up for them and ask for leniency. However, if Singapore would recognise how backward we are in terms of human rights, then by removing caning as a punishment for vandalism completely, we would also ensure that it is not only Fricker who escapes flogging, but everyone who comes after him, Singaporean or foreigner.

    I don’t believe that it should be retroactive if we want to abolish flogging. I mean, if you already know it’s wrong and want to get rid of it, why still do it to this guy? It’s like “last cigarette” syndrome, where someone knows smoking and bad and wants to quit but still goes, “I’ll just have this one…” (Okay, the analogy isn’t great.)

    I would go on but I have a sense that it is going to turn into a long one so I think I’ll just blog about it later today! 🙂

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