SINGAPORE - The news about blogger Roy Ngerng angered him so much that he went on a defacing spree for about four hours.
Using a black marker, Loh Thiam Hock, 71, defaced 16 bus stops and three walkways at various locations in the Central Business District (CBD).
Yesterday, Loh was jailed four weeks for five counts of mischief. Fourteen other similar charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.
He was chided by District Judge Lim Keng Yeow, who said that there were many other ways in which Loh could have expressed his anger. "It is clearly unacceptable to express your views by unlawful means."
The rag-and-bone man, who collected tin cans for a living, appeared calm and stayed silent as the facts were read to him in court. On May 21, he read that Mr Ngerng had removed a blog post accusing the Government of "misappropriating" CPF funds, a day after he was asked to do so by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's lawyer.
Loh then decided to go on a spree the next day. For about four hours, he scribbled "We support CPF Blogger, Return our CPF Money R/AC & M/AC, Above 65 yrs Bal $5000 in M/AC" at bus stops and walkways.
The next day, a civil servant on the way to work saw the writing at a bus stop and made a police report.
Investigations revealed that Loh had written these messages on various private and public properties indiscriminately. A majority were written on advertisement boards at bus stops. The rest were scribbled on stone seats, lamp posts, parapets and a transformer box. These were owned by various advertising companies, SP PowerGrid and the Land Transport Authority.
According to court documents, the damage amounted to about $2,700.
The judge told Loh that he had considered making him pay for the damage but decided against it.
Loh was previously convicted and fined thrice for illegal gambling and was jailed four months for causing grievous hurt in 2003. In a lengthy mitigation in the Hokkien dialect, Loh pleaded for leniency.
Speaking through a translator, he told the court that he has no home since he got out of jail more than 10 years ago, and has been wandering the streets.
In calling for a one- to three-month custodial sentence, Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Lai Yi Shin added that Loh could seek help from counsellors in prison and approach family service centres for help if he has problems after release.
Noting Loh's age and an Institute of Mental Health report which said he was "a borderline case of intellectual function", Judge Lim said: "Based on your circumstances, the terms of imprisonment need not be a long one."
Loh was previously charged with vandalism before they were amended to causing mischief.
He could have been jailed for two years and fined.
This article was first published on June 24, 2014.
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