MP Nair surprised with Dr Woffles Wu sentence

SINGAPORE - In his blog directed to his constituents, Member of Parliament (MP) Hri Kuamr Nair expressed surprise that Dr Woffles Wu was fined $1,000 for hiring a fall-guy to take the rap for two speeding incidents.

In his blog the MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC acknowledged the offences committed by Dr Wu were serious as "they seek to undermine the course of justice".

The MP who is also a lawyer, went on to note that in previous cases perpetrators of similar crimes were handed jail sentences, though he conceded that "no two cases are the same".

He also said that he hoped the court will explain its reason for imposing a fine in the case of Dr Wu when other cases merited a jail sentence.

By doing so, he added, the court "will promote transparency and confidence in our legal system, and deal with allegations of unfair treatment, which have already appeared on the net."

He also added that the court gives judges little to work with in sentencing as it usually entails either jail or a fine. He continued to add that in some cases a fine might be too lenient and jail too harsh.

Also when a fine is imposed and the offender is unable to pay up, he is jailed. This in turn changes a light punishment to a heavy one. It also discriminates between those who can afford to pay and those who cannot.

To deal with this issue he offered his suggestions for the case of Dr Wu and the recent case of the Sticker Lady: "Where a person pays another to take the rap for a traffic offence to preserve his driving licence, wouldn't a more appropriate punishment be to suspend his licence?

"Inflict on the offender what he was trying by criminal means to avoid. Likewise for less serious cases of vandalism, get the offender to clean up more than he has damaged."

In Sep 2010, sales executive Charlie Lim Chau Lee, 51, was jailed for six months and fined $1,000 for asking a female friend to take the rap for a 2008 speeding offence. Hair-salon owner Lim Ah Hwa, who agreed to help him, was fined $5,000.

The Straits Times reported that lawyer R.S. Bajwa explained that in Dr Wu's case, the offences could also have been framed under the Penal Code instead of the Road Traffic Act.

In the cases that MP Nair has referenced the accused were charged under the Penal Code for giving false information to a public servant, which draws more severe penalties.

However, the decision with what the accused would be charged with lies with the Public Prosecutor.

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