Singaporean jailed for 'democracy' spray-painting act

SINGAPORE - A Singaporean man who spray-painted the word "democracy" on a national monument was sentenced Monday to three months in jail and three strokes of the cane for vandalism.

Mohamad Khalid Mohamad Yusop, 33, had pleaded guilty to defacing the Cenotaph War Memorial in downtown Singapore on April 23.

Chiding Khalid for his "highly anti-social and selfish" act, district judge Lim Tse Haw said there was a need to impose a stiff sentence to deter others from desecrating national monuments.

"Just because you felt stressed over your family and financial circumstances, you decided to vandalise the Cenotaph War Monument, a national monument," Lim said, citing Khalid's mitigation plea.

The judge also ordered Khalid to pay compensation of Sg$208 ($162) for repairs that had to be done on the monument.

Built in 1922, the Cenotaph monument is dedicated to the memory of 124 British soldiers born or resident in Singapore who died in World War I.

It was later also dedicated to the memory of those who died in World War II.

"These soldiers sacrificed their lives so that we can enjoy the peace that we have today," Lim told a sombre-looking Khalid.

"By your actions, you have shown great disrespect to the memory of our war dead and hurt the feelings of their descendants."

Singapore has long taken a tough stance against vandalism.

American teenager Michael Fay made global headlines in 1994 when he was jailed and caned in Singapore for vandalising cars, despite a US appeal for clemency.

In 2010 a Swiss man was jailed and caned for vandalising a Singapore metro train.

Khalid could have been jailed for up to three years plus eight strokes of the cane - a punishment dating back to British colonial rule in Singapore - for his offence.