This news was reported in the Straits Times.
3 others in Orchard Towers brawl will be sentenced Nov 6
By Sujin Thomas
BIRTHDAY party celebrations at an Orchard Towers pub last November turned ugly when six men ended up beating another to death.
After he was assaulted in the early hours of Nov 23, Suhaimi Sulong, 37, was taken unconscious to the Singapore General Hospital.
He died an hour later from head and neck injuries.
Yesterday, three of his attackers – Muhammad Ridhwan Mohd Roslan, 20, Ho Ching Boon, 17, and Lai Chee Kuen, 17 – were sent to the reformative training centre.
There, younger offenders are confined for between 18 months and three years and put through a tough regimen of foot drills, counselling, education and vocational training.
The packed courtroom was filled with teary eyed family members of the three men.
The remaining three in the dock – Muhammad Sufian Zainal, 21, Ahmad Nur Helmy Ahmad Hamdan, 20, and Helmi Abdul Rahim, 28 – will be sentenced on Nov 6.
According to court documents, the six had gone to the Brown Sugar pub on the second floor of Orchard Towers on the evening of Nov 22 to celebrate a friend’s birthday.
A few hours later, Lai and Ho left the pub briefly and were approached by Suhaimi, who asked them if they wanted oral sex. Both men declined.
Later, while Ahmad was combing his hair in a toilet, Suhaimi approached him with the same question. Ahmad responded with a hailstorm of vulgarities in Malay.
A few minutes later, he caught up with Suhaimi and asked if he was a homosexual. He was by then with Muhammad Sufian, Ho and Lai.
When Suhaimi ignored him, Ahmad punched him in the face till he fell onto the floor. Muhammad Sufian restrained Ahmad and helped Suhaimi up onto his feet.
As Suhaimi ran down the staircase, Ahmad again shouted vulgarities at him.
This time, Suhaimi stopped in his tracks and stared at Ahmad.
It would cost him his life.
Ahmad chased him down the staircase with Muhammad Sufian in tow. Meanwhile, Suhaimi had made a run for it, reaching the ground floor before Muhammad Sufian, who had earlier helped him, kicked him in the back.
Suhaimi fell to the ground and was kicked and punched by Ahmad, Muhammad Sufian, Ho and Lai.
Muhammad Ridhwan and Helmi, who were bystanders, also joined in.
The men stopped only when a taxi driver shouted at them. Later, he also called the police. By then, Suhaimi was unconscious.
The six men were subsequently arrested.
There has never been a reported hate crime in Singapore – not that it has not occurred before, just that it has been only whispered quietly between friends.
The magnitude of the crime becomes clear if you imagine it was a woman who was flashed. Women of all ranks endure objectification every single day – has any woman not been approached/stared at/solicited/commented upon by men they encounter in the streets? When this happens, we are told to just walk away, or at the most, call the police if the person persists.
Has anyone been advised to call their buddies over and beat the man to death?
Yes, the man behaved badly, but death was not his punishment, and it was not the assailants’ place to give it. If harrassed, the victim could always have called the police – do we not have a legal system in place to deal with crimes, and to stop people from taking the law into their own hands?
We do not believe that provocation should be allowed a partial defence to this crime, because the magnitude of the provocation is nowhere near the level of hurt inflicted in response. Angry men do bad things, but their anger should not serve as an excuse for inflicting harm beyond what a reasonable person in their shoes would. And we certainly do not believe that a solicitation should invite a response so extreme.
We believe that the men took so much offence because they felt their masculinity was threatened. But to allow this reasoning to glorify masculinity as an inviolable premise, which men are allowed to defend with lethal force. In fact, the assault later suggests a response borne out of a need to display their masculinity at the same time as defending it.
Allowing provocation as a defence would send out the wrong signal to society, that masculinity is so much more valuable than feminity, and force is an acceptable way to defend the slightest offence to it. It would signify that being solicited by a man is a shameful thing for another man – and a threat to its manhood, which is not the case.
In a further development of the story, three of the men who joined in the assault have been sent to a reform centre as part of their punishment, with the charge for murder dropped and substituted with a charge for voluntary cause of grievous hurt.
The original three assailants will be sentenced on Nov 6.