David Boey
Tue, Jan 08, 2008
The Straits Times
Ex-teen actor starts jail term for insubordination in NS

FORMER teen actor Marcus Ng Yi Loong, 21, began his one-week jail term on Tuesday after he failed in his appeal to get his sentence for insubordination quashed.

The High Court on Tuesday upheld the jail sentence meted out by a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) court martial in July last year. He was also reprimanded by a Military Court of Appeal for being rude to his superior.

This is the second time he has been hauled up since he started his military service in September 2006.

Ng, who holds the rank of Private, is perhaps best-known as the rebellious teen in the TV sitcom Phua Chu Kang.

Ng's troubles in the SAF began in October 2006 when his superiors at the SAF Medical Training Institute slapped him with four charges for offences including not obeying orders.

In February last year, while he was being investigated by the SAF legal process, Ng chased and argued aggressively with a 50-year-old woman Warrant Officer in his unit's Operations Room.

A Master Warrant Officer, a trained Commando, saw the altercation and intervened.

Ng rudely shrugged off the Master Warrant Officer's hand when he tried to calm the Private.

For this, Ng faced two more charges: one for insubordinate behaviour after the Operations Room argument, and another for improper conduct.

Last July, an SAF court martial found him guilty of these charges and sentenced him to seven days jail at the SAF Detention Barracks for each charge.

Unhappy with the sentence, Ng lodged a Notice of Appeal - a legal right for all SAF serviceman to seek redress - and was granted a hearing by a five-person panel chaired by Justice Choo Han Teck.

In the meantime, Ng was fined $500 for two of the earlier charges and acquitted on the other charges.

On Tuesday, Ng's defence lawyer, Mr Wendell Wong from Drew & Napier, said a jail term was 'the harshest punishment I've ever seen for this sort of offence'' and urged the panel to quash the convictions or impose a fine instead.

But Mr Luke Tan, head of Military Law at the Ministry of Defence, argued: 'This is akin to a case where a person is on bail. Has he learnt anything from it? No, he goes one up and goes after two other officers.'

'It would be inappropriate to give a little slap on the wrist by imposing a fine as that would be of little consequence to him.''

Some 25 people, including Ng's mother, Madam Florence Tan, 58, were in court when the panel reached a unanimous decision to uphold the first charge and reduce the second sentence to a reprimand.

He appeared teary-eyed when led away to begin his sentence.

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