Above: Iskandar Abdul Rahim was 23 when this picture was taken in 1998 after he had helped an elderly woman who was molested by a stranger. Now aged 34, he was sent to 8 years of preventive dentention and given 9 strokes of the cane for being a serial molester.
By Andre Yeo
ELEVEN years ago, on National Day, he ignored his own safety and chased after a molester.
His call to the police helped them arrest the man who was later sentenced to jail.
Today, that same hero sits in a prison cell - a fallen angel.
Ironically, Iskandar Abdul Rahim, now 34, was convicted last June of the very same crime he had acted against in 1998.
It turned out that he had been a serial sexual predator since 2000, often impersonating a police officer to prey on teenage girls.
And even after Iskandar was caught and jailed, he went back to his criminal ways once he was released.
As a recalcitrant offender, he is now in eight years of preventive detention and still has a rape charge pending.
Back in 1998, life could not have been more different for Iskandar. Then 23 and working as a project manager for an interior design company, he was hailed for his public-spiritedness in helping to nab a molester.
He had seen a man molesting a 79-year-old woman at the void deck of her block at 3am on 9Aug that year, The Straits Times reported.
The man, a 36-year-old odd-job labourer, was arrested and jailed for 15 months and caned six times, in November 1998.
Just months after his heroic deed, Iskandar's downward spiral began.
He was convicted of impersonating a police officer in March 1999 and August 2000 and was fined a total of $3,800.
He was also convicted in August 2000 of criminal intimidation and cheating and fined a total of $7,000.
Then in June 2000, his sex crimes came to light when he attacked two 18-year-old girls in the space of two hours.
Details of Iskandar's crimes were in District Judge Wong Choon Ning's grounds of decision released in January this year on why the molester was sentenced to eight years' preventive detention for crimes committed in 2005 and 2006.
Preventive detention means he is not eligible for early release.
On 23 Jun 2000, Iskandar's first victim was walking to a bus-stop after 1am, after being with friends at a billiards hall, when Iskandar drove up in his car.
He invited her for a drink, and she went along. He told her he was a police officer at Tanglin Police Station from the 'murder department', and flashed a card with a police logo.
He later drove her to a park where he climbed on top of her and tried to remove her clothes, while kissing her on her face.
The stunned girl screamed and struggled violently, slapping and biting him on the shoulder as he molested her.
He finally stopped and took her home, claiming he had recorded all their conversations that night.
Less than two hours later, around 3am, he spotted another 18-year-old girl walking home and followed her into a lift at her block.
He again flashed his 'police' card and told her to follow him to his car.
After driving to a park, he claimed he needed to check her body for tattoos and told her to unbutton her blouse.
She reluctantly complied and he molested her by brushing his hand against her breast. But she managed to escape and fled in a taxi.
Iskandar was later arrested and jailed for a total of three years and seven months and given a total of seven strokes of the cane for the offences.
He was released in 2003.
Then, on 2 Apr, 2005, he struck again by preying on a drunk 18-year-old student.
She was at a club in the Mohammed Sultan Road area when she passed out from drinking too much.
Her friends took her to a couch outside the club. They gradually went back in, leaving two men to look after her.
Iskandar, then a manager at a food court, was loitering around and saw them.
After one of the men went to the toilet, the girl threw up. Iskandar went up and claimed to be the girl's friend.
He told the other man to get tissue paper to clean her up and the latter left.
Iskandar immediately picked up the girl and left.
When both men returned two minutes later, they were horrified to find her missing.
By then, Iskandar had dumped the girl at the back of his car, which was parked at the back of the building, and driven off.
But, some passers-by had seen him carrying the girl and running to his car. One of them became suspicious and memorised his car's licence plate number.
When he saw the two friends looking for the girl, he told them what he had seen and one of them called the police.
After parking at a quiet spot, Iskandar told the drunk girl, 'I am your friend', when she asked who he was. He then forcibly removed her pants and molested her.
A policeman, who had been on the lookout for Iskandar's car, eventually stopped the car at 3.50am and found her unconscious in the front passenger seat.
When she did not respond, he called for an ambulance. Iskandar's semen was later found on her underwear and belt.
Iskandar struck again on 7 July, 2006, when he forcibly kissed a 22-year-old woman near Bishan Park.
Tricked into stripping
Two months later, he impersonated a Central Narcotics Bureau officer and tricked a young woman into stripping in his car on the pretext of searching for drugs.
In November that year, he stole an $11,600 Rolex watch from a drunk man who had just left a disco.
When he was taken to court, Iskandar claimed trial. He was convicted on 27 Jun last year.
District Judge Wong sentenced him to eight years of preventive detention and nine strokes of the cane.
His appeal against the sentence is pending.
He has also been slapped with a fresh charge of raping a woman in the Sin Ming area on 10 Feb 2008. This case is still pending.
A medical report on Iskandar stated that he has a financially-secure and supportive family, but he had a problem with alcohol use.
In mitigation, his lawyer told the court that Iskandar was remorseful and pleaded for leniency as his wife of five years was expecting their first child.
His act of bravery in 1998 was also brought up as a mitigating factor.
When he was asked in an interview then why he wanted to help people, his reply was: 'I help people because I hope that when I'm in trouble, others will come and help me.'
'A menace to society'
HE'S a repeat offender and a sexual predator whom the public must be protected from.
This was deputy public prosecutor (DPP) Ng Cheng Thiam's argument when he called for preventive detention for Iskandar Abdul Rahim.
In his grounds of decision, District Judge Wong Choon Ning noted that Mr Ng had highlighted how Iskandar's modus operandi in 2000 and in his latest offences were similar.
His crimes were of a sexual nature, most of his victims were about 18 years old, and he would pretend to be a law enforcement officer.
He would lure his victims into his car with fake promises or false representations and drive them to a secluded area late at night where they would have little chance of getting help.
Mr Wong said the prosecution had noted the way in which the unrepentant and 'cunning' sex predator had planned his attacks showed he was 'a menace to society who could not be trusted'.
Iskandar had first been represented by Mr John Abraham, then Ms Gloria James.
Judge Wong agreed that Iskandar was a dangerous man and said that for the protection of the public, he had to be kept away for a substantial period of time.
This article was first published in The New Paper.