In June this year, a certain Bryan Lim made this comment:
“I am a Singaporean citizen. I am a NSman. I am a father. And I swore to protect my nation. Give me the permission to open fire. I would like to see these £@€$^*s die for their causes”
He made that comment on an anti-LGBT page. It was in response to the Pink Dot movement. For that comment, Bryan has been charged and slapped with a $3,500 fine.
LGBT is a sensitive and emotive topic. I have had many heated discussions on this subject with various friends. Some of them on the other side of the LGBT issues. I am grateful that my relationship with those friends are built on a very solid foundation that we have managed to keep our emotions in check and agree to disagree.
Bryan, on the other hand, chose to take to Facebook to express his views very publicly. Bryan’s lawyer said that it was an ill-conceived rant. That’s an understatement. The DPP of the case said this:
“By laying plain his threat of violence and seeking permission to open fire from people he believed to be his like-minded brethren (on the anti-LGBT Facebook page), the accused would have further aroused the emotions of people who disapproved of the LGBT community and lifestyle, and inflamed what, by his own admission, the accused knew to be deeply emotional issues”
Of course, everyone is free to express their views. Everyone is free to champion any causes they feel strongly for. But, as Justice Low, who passed the sentence, emphasised, their means were not justified by their causes. Justice Low said:
“It’ll be useful if this court states the following to the public. There are many causes for Singaporeans. I can safely say there is little prohibition on that, subject to some very sensitive areas. Clearly, this court does not wish to comment on the cause you’re championing, but has simply found you guilty for the manner of which you have communicated on your Facebook (page) in championing your cause.”
Some people would contend that a $3,500 fine is too low. Some have noted that Bryan is apparently still working for Canon. They wonder why Canon has not fired him yet. But Bryan is no less capable at his work now than before. So why should Canon sack Bryan? Why should losing his job be part of Bryan’s punishment? That’s not part of our laws.
Bryan has been punished according to our laws. Who are we to punish Bryan any more than what our judges deemed fit according to the law? So long as Bryan learns his lesson and doesn’t re-offend, we should let Bryan move on with his life.
But that’s the problem with Singapore. We don’t let people who make mistakes move on.
Ex-offenders who have received their due punishments are still not free. More often than not, society won’t let them move on. They try to get jobs. They can’t. Because their past haunts them. And society still views them with much suspicion. That’s why if Bryan is indeed still working at Canon, then I think Canon is certainly a very enlightened company. And more companies and Singaporeans ought to be like Canon.
Let’s hope we are can make strides toward truly unlocking the second prison for ex-offenders.
[Featured image: canonrumors.com]