Press statement by MCA Spokesperson Chan Quin Er
Justice for All (but not women?).
It is worrying that in the past 48 hours, there has been a slew of reports in the news regarding sexual assault against women, all of which highlight the lack of safeguards for the victims.
I refer to the cases of Dr Gurdeep Singh who was charged under Section 509 of the Penal Code for insulting the modesty of a former patient, and the dermatologist Dr Ruban Nathan who was accused by acclaimed journalist Tashny Sukumaran of inappropriate physical contact.
On 13 Jan 2020, I read that in Dr Gurdeep Singh’s case, Deputy Public Prosecutor mysteriously failed to produce the investigation papers during case mention, resulting in the Magistrate granting Dr Gurdeep a discharge, horrifying the victim’s lawyer.
And then on 14 Jan 2020, the news reported that in Dr Ruban Nathan’s case, Tashny Sukumaran was told that not only was her police report against the physician closed due to insufficient evidence, but she herself is to be charged on 15 Jan for criminal defamation. Why is she being victimised? She only called out sexual predators.
I believe that one should remain innocent until proven guilty, but in both cases, the prosecution did not even deem the alleged cases of abuse worthy to be heard in Court. To make matters worse, the fact that one of the women was charged for whistleblowing, is most alarming.
Criminal defamation, or criminal libel as it is known in Common Law, is one of the many flaws in the Penal Code we inherited from the British, as it effectively restricts the freedom of expression. Rather, we should push for the abolition of criminal defamation laws as we have perfectly sufficient civil defamation laws already.
If not, there should at least be an amendment allowing for exceptions in the case of a disadvantaged victim who has no other course of action but to publicly call out a predator, such as female or minority victims.
It is appalling that in the age of #MeToo there are still powerful men who manage to escape the consequences of their actions due to a flawed system that punishes the victim instead.
All this goes to show why we need stronger protections for women and children from sexual predators. I repeat once again the clarion call: we must not tarry when the wellbeing of women and children are at stake.
Chan Quin Er