Different bust-ups, different law

Jazz singer Dawn Ho (left) and Lee Yew Nam (right).

SINGAPORE - Jazz singer Dawn Ho was left with a bleeding nose after being allegedly punched by Mr Aaron Jeremiejczyk. He was not arrested.

But Lee Yew Nam, the boss of IT software company Encore eServices, whose actions were caught on video last May, has recently been charged with causing hurt and abusing his employee.

If you are wondering why, it is because police did not have the power to arrest Mr Jeremiejczyk. His offence, classified as "voluntarily causing hurt", is a non-seizable one, lawyers said.

This means that the police do not have the power to arrest the assailant unless the assault takes place in their presence.

But after investigations, the police may still charge a suspect in court, and he or she may face up to two years in jail, up to $5,000 in fine, or both.

When it comes to fractures, or broken bones, things are more clear-cut. In such cases, likely classified as "voluntarily causing grievous hurt", the police can make arrests on the spot.

"Minor" incidents are typically left to the parties involved to sort out because of lack of police resources, lawyers told MyPaper.

They added that there is an exception when victims are protected by "public policies", for example, when the victim is a public transport worker or a maid, or there is an employer-employee relationship involved.

This could explain why Lee was charged with causing hurt and abusing an intern.

Criminal lawyer Amolat Singh added that the police seem to act when there has been a viral video and public outcry.

The lawyer from law firm Amolat and Partners pointed to a case last October in which odd-job worker Juraimi Kamaludin was charged with using criminal force against two women at Woodlands interchange. He was also charged with causing annoyance and danger to other passengers on a bus. The video showed him spitting at two women.

Mr Singh said the case showed how police action can sometimes be taken even when there is no physical injury involved.

This issue was brought to light recently when jazz singer Ho was allegedly punched on the nose by Mr Jeremiejczyk.

Ms Ho stepped in when she found that Mr Jeremiejczyk was bullying a limousine taxi driver and ended up getting punched. She was then advised to make a magistrate's complaint against him. Netizens wondered why Mr Jeremiejczyk was not arrested.

"This is because the police do not have the resources and manpower to investigate ordinary assault cases which happen too frequently," said criminal lawyer Chia Boon Teck.

When contacted, the police said they will take action accordingly, "depending on the facts and circumstances of each case".

While Ms Ho's case may have been deemed minor, Mr Singh said: "The law should have come to her aid. Otherwise, no one will step up and help others."


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