Cenotaph vandal gets 3 months' jail and 3 strokes

Khalid, who vandalised The Cenotaph war memorial in April, was also made to pay the $208 cost of repair.

SINGAPORE - The man who vandalised The Cenotaph war memorial in April was sentenced to three months' jail and the minimum three strokes of the cane on Monday.

Security guard Mohamad Khalid Mohamad Yusop, 33, also had to pay the $208 cost of repair.

In passing sentence, District Judge Lim Tse Haw said Khalid had committed a highly anti-social and very selfish act when he spray-painted "democracy" and an "X" in red on the monument in Connaught Drive on April 23.

"Just because you felt stressed over your family and financial circumstances, you decided to vandalise... a national monument," said the judge.

He compared this case to another graffiti case in 2010, when 32-year-old Swiss national Oliver Fricker was given seven months in jail and three strokes of the cane for trespass and spray-painting two MRT train carriages in a protected depot. The Fricker case involved around $11,000 in damage.

What made Khalid's act of vandalism worse was the significance of the public property involved.

"You have shown great disrespect to the memory of our war dead and hurt the feelings of their descendants. Your action had also caused outrage among all right-thinking Singaporeans," said Judge Lim.

Built in 1922, The Cenotaph is dedicated to the Singaporeans who died in the two World Wars. Located in an open public place, it is also vulnerable to vandalism.

Khalid, who said his graffiti was art and a revolution when confronted by eyewitnesses, had targeted The Cenotaph precisely because his graffiti would be easily noticed by the public.

Hence, there was a need to impose a deterrent sentence in order to discourage similar acts, the judge explained.

The judge also took into account that this was Khalid's first brush with the law and his genuine remorse in unreservedly apologising and asking Singaporeans to forgive him for his "unthinking action".

Khalid, who pleaded guilty, could have been fined up to $2,000 or jailed for up to three years and given up to eight strokes of the cane.

Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.