FORMER firefighter was sentenced to two months' jail and three strokes of the cane yesterday after he admitted spraying purported anti-government graffiti on a pavement.
Muhammad Qamarul Arifin Sa'adon, 23, was a full-time national serviceman at the time he wrote the words "WE ARE ONE WE ARE LEGION EXPECT US!!" outside Sunshine Plaza.
He had been with four accomplices, three of whom are also alleged to have taken part in the vandalism at 4am on Nov 5 last year.
They had been chatting at a bus stop when one of the group said he had received a call from someone in Switzerland claiming to be a member of the "hacktivist" group Anonymous.
He said he was told to spray-paint a message backing its fight against the Singapore Government.
Qamarul went to buy spray paint and wrote the message, along with the logo of his friend's clothing line, as his accomplices kept watch nearby.
A manager at the Prinsep Link complex later reported the graffiti to police, who launched an investigation.
Qamarul was the first among the group to plead guilty to the crime, and was also fined $500 on another charge of stealing a $48 pouch at a Beach Road food centre.
Two other charges of vandalising a pillar and a taxi stand were taken into consideration.
Qamarul's lawyer, K. R. Manicka, said his client comes from a good family.
"He has been found to be consistent in his performance and dedicated in his work," he said of his client, who has finished his national service with the Changi Fire Station.
The lawyer said it was a "one-off incident" and his client was sincerely remorseful for having brought shame to his family.
Citing aggravating factors, Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Wee Hao said the offences were pre-meditated and committed during a period of heightened fears and concerns about cyber security in Singapore.
District Judge Ng Peng Hong agreed that a stiff sentence was warranted to signal that such acts could not be condoned.
Qamarul could have been jailed for up to three years and received up to eight strokes of the cane for vandalism. For theft, the maximum penalty is three years' jail and a fine.
This article by The Straits Times was published in MyPaper, a free, bilingual newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.