In breaking news of this week, 6 men have been charged under s377A and s377 of the Singapore Penal Code, for sex with a teen they met on the internet. We reproduce the AGC Media Briefing below.
PROCEEDINGS FOR UNNATURAL OFFENCES AGAINST NG GENG WHYE, QUEK HOCK SENG, SONG CHOONG CHEN THOMAS, BALASUNDARAM S/O SUPPIAH, MUHAMMAD HAFASHAH BIN MOHD ASLAM AND NG YONG YOU VICTOR
The abovenamed six accused persons have been charged for committing unnatural
offences with a 15 year old male student on occasions in 2006 and 2007. The six
accused persons met the victim while chatting on the internet. The accused
persons are charged as follows:-
1. NG GENG WHYE: 1 charge of Carnal Intercourse Against the Order of Nature under s377 of the Penal Code Cap.224;
2. QUEK HOCK SENG: 1 charge of Gross Indecency under s377A of the Penal Code Cap.224.
3. SONG CHOONG CHEN THOMAS : 1 charge of Gross Indecency under s377A of the Penal Code Cap.224;
4. BALASUNDARAM S/O SUPPIAH : 1 charge of Carnal Intercourse Against the Order of Nature under s377 of the Penal Code Cap.224.
5. MUHAMMAD HAFASHAH BIN MOHD ASLAM: 2 charges of Carnal Intercourse Against the Order of Nature under s377 of the Penal Code Cap.224; and
6. NG YONG YOU VICTOR: 2 charges of Gross Indecency under s377A of the Penal Code Cap.224.
The Public Prosecutor will prosecute persons who exploit a young victim who is a minor, irrespective of the gender of the victim or whether the act was consensual. A young male victim, who is a minor, deserves to be accorded the same protection the law as that given to a young female victim who is a minor.
One might be inclined to ask why they are being prosecuted under a law that does not exist anymore – s377 is now confined solely to cases of necrophilia, and not unnatural sex. That would be because the offences were committed in 2006-2007, at a time when s377 still covered all unnatural sex.
The other question is, why not charge those charged under s377A, under the new s376A, which was specifically inserted to provide for the protection of minors of both genders? It is a principle of criminal law that laws cannot be retrospective – s376A did not exist in force at the time of the offence (gazetted on 1 Feb 2008), and hence cannot be used to prosecute them.
In our opinion, it is important to protect minors from sexual predators, and we believe that if the men are indeed guilty of assaulting the teen (or having sex with him at a point when he is unable to consent), they should be punished. We cannot, legally and socially, agree with the use of s377A to prosecute the crime, however, we acknowledge that the AGC must have been caught between a rock and a hard place in trying to follow the circuitous roads of legal reasoning. The issue here is that male minors were never protected under the Penal Code until the advent of s376A, and s377A was used a very poor substitute to address a much deeper, very different social problem.
We hope that for future crimes such as this, s376A will be used, and not s377A.