In what is believed to be the first case of its kind, a 33-year-old Singaporean man has been found guilty on Tuesday (Oct 6) of sending threatening messages to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong via Facebook.
Tan Yeong Hong said he became frustrated when he attended a Meet the People’s Session (MPS) in PM Lee’s Ang Mo Kio ward on Jun 24 this year, only to find that the PM would not be there.
Tan said he attended the MPS to pass the PM “an article he had typed out”. He had to settle for passing the letter to a grassroots leader instead.
In the four threatening messages he sent to the PM, Tan said: “Eh, you challenged me to visit your MPS but you are not here. I will find and stage an attack on you when I have information on your public appearances. You know who I am”.
Tan also included his NRIC number and handphone number in the messages.
A police report was lodged the next day by a Senior Manager of the Online Communications Unit of the Prime Minister’s Office, which manages the PM’s social media accounts.
HE IS ‘VIOLENT … ALWAYS ARMED WITH A KNIFE’
A team of investigating officers traced the messages to Tan, and a background check revealed that he lived at Block 108 Hougang Avenue 1, while his father lived in an old folks’ home and his mother had been admitted to hospital.
Police interviewed Tan’s parents, who informed them at their son was “a violent person … always armed himself with a knife”.
Hours later, police nabbed Tan close to his home. A hostile Tan punched a policeman on his shoulder and elbowed another in the face, but was eventually subdued and placed under arrest.
In a search of Tan’s home, police found assorted dangerous weapons including a hammer, two choppers and several knives. Police also found a list of PM’s upcoming public appearances.
Tan admitted that he had brought a hammer along to the MPS but never intended to use it.
The man also disclosed that he had been approached 10 years ago by an unnamed Chinese male, and was “instructed to pass ‘data’ to PM Lee”. He claimed he “was being prompted by someone with a hidden audio and surveillance device” planted in his house.
“The people in the audio and surveillance system told me to … throw a hammer at (PM) because he refused to take the document from me after he had asked me to prepare it”, Tan said.
When District Judge Mathew Joseph asked if Tan had seen this device, Tan said that he had not.
TAN SUFFERS FROM PARANOID SCHIZOPHRENIA
Deputy Public Prosecutor Andre Chong said that psychiatric reports show that Tan suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, which had been left untreated at the time of his offences. The illness played “a large contributory role in (his) offending behavior”, according to the report. However, Tan was not found to be of unsound mind and is still fit to plead, the report concluded.
Tan, who was unrepresented, said he is sorry for “the childish act” and asked for a light sentence because his mother has had knee surgery and is father is a stroke patient. “I was facing financial problems”, Tan said, in response to Judge Mathew’s question as to why he had sent the threats to the PM.
“I think I’m living in a unit with a secret camera”, Tan told the court, and stated again that he had no intention of carrying out the threats.
Judge Mathew, speaking to Tan directly, said this is “an extremely serious case, you are facing a stiff sentence”, and expressed concern that the accused did not realise the severity of the charges he is facing.
When he heard that the prosecution intended to seek a sentence of 18 to 23 months’ jail, Tan did an about-turn and told the judge that he did in fact wish to engage counsel.
The judge, having previously expressed his intention to refer Tan’s case to a voluntary lawyer “in the interests of justice and fairness” and “in light of the charges (Tan) is facing”, adjourned the matter until Oct 15, at which a lawyer for Tan is expected to be present.