Singapore, July 28
A Singaporean man was sentenced to a week-long imprisonment and fined Singapore dollars 1,000 (USD 723) on Thursday for hurling xenophobic slurs at two Indian-origin workers a year ago.
Lee Poh Kian, 56, who berated the two foreign workers with insults, in his defence said it was his "constitutional right" to express himself as the pair were in his neighbourhood.
In response to Lee's claims to his rights, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Sean Teh in his submissions said, "At no point did the accused make any valid arguments regarding the Constitution to support his case. It is also glaringly obvious that there is no such constitutional right."
Lee was also without a mask when he approached Ratnasingam Jatheesan and Krishnan Karthikeyan and insulted them in Toa Payoh on July 12 last year, according to a report in The Straits Times newspaper.
Migrant workers from India are among the majority of foreign workers employed in the construction sector here.
The court heard that Jatheesan and Karthikeyan were taking measurements for the construction of a linkway in Lorong 5 Toa Payoh housing estate last July when it started to rain.
The pair sought shelter in a corridor when Lee, who was nearby, started berating them with xenophobic insults, the report said.
Jatheesan recorded a video of the tirade, in which Lee said, among other things, "You enter my country is wrong...This government also illegal. We will get you out."
During the trial, Lee admitted that he had told the two men that "Singapore doesn't like them" and "they should go far, far away".
According to the daily report, Lee also admitted that he had told them that "the Singapore government would remove them (from the country)".
The workers had never interacted with Lee prior to the incident, the court heard. They also did not use abusive language on Lee.
DPP Teh said that Lee, who was not represented by a lawyer, had no valid defence and what he said "failed to hold an iota of logic".
Lee had said he was entitled to use those words against the pair because of the "crime situation" and "overcrowding" in Singapore caused by foreign nationals.
"He also stated that if foreign nationals such as (the pair) still come to Singapore despite it being overcrowded, it is 'very illegal',” the report quoted the prosecutor as saying.
"On the same note, the accused...even implicitly referred to himself as xenophobic," it said.
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