SINGAPORE — A serial litterbug, Peh Choe Kong, 51, has been sentenced to six weeks’ jail on Wednesday (19 Apr) for submitting false evidence during his 2021 littering trial, according to a report by Straits Times.
Peh had previously been convicted eight times for littering over the past ten years.
In July 2020, Peh was caught throwing a cigarette butt onto the ground near Tampines 1 mall by two auxiliary police officers. He claimed trial and later submitted false evidence in the form of photos and made false claims, in an attempt to exonerate himself.
He falsely claimed that the photos were screenshots obtained from the mall’s closed-circuit television cameras on the day and at the scene of the alleged offence. The photos were subsequently admitted as evidence.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Joshua Phang said Peh knew the evidence was false but made the claims anyway. The court ultimately convicted Peh of the littering charge and fined him S$3,600.
In June 2021, a National Environment Agency inspector made a police report, stating that he had reason to believe Peh had given false evidence in court.
DPP Phang sought at least two months’ imprisonment for Peh, noting that courts have imposed sentences longer than six months for the offence of intentionally giving false evidence in a judicial proceeding.
Defence lawyer Daniel Xu sought six weeks’ jail for Peh, arguing that the false evidence did not ultimately mislead the court.
The case draws comparisons to the case of Karl Liew, 45, who was sentenced to two weeks of imprisonment for lying in the case of migrant domestic worker Parti Liyani, who was accused of theft by Karl and his family which included the former Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong.
In the hearing, Karl gave multiple false testimonies about items he accused Ms Parti of stealing. These include a black female dress he claimed to have worn himself in his testimony to the court and a broken watch which he valued at S$25,000.
Out of S$50,856 worth of items that Ms Parti was charged for stealing, S$46,856 worth of items were declared by Karl, which was reduced to S$34,000 by DJ Low due to the pro bono efforts of Mr Anil Balchandani from Red Lion Circle law firm.
Nevertheless, based on the testimonies of the Liew family, Ms Parti was convicted of the charges against her and sentenced to 26 months imprisonment by former District Judge Olivia Low. Fortunately for her, she was eventually acquitted by Justice Chan Seng Onn after she appealed against the convictions.
Contrary to the position of the DPP in Peh’s case, both the prosecution and Karl’s lawyer had asked for the maximum fine of S$5,000 for Karl. The prosecution said that they did not ask for a custodial sentence on account of Karl Liew’s claim that he has Parkinson’s disease.
Judge Teo disagreed with the prosecution’s request for a fine and pointed out that the submissions by the prosecution read like mitigation and were lifted wholesale and repeated for effect by the Defence in its own mitigation for submissions on sentencing, and instead delivered a sentence of two weeks imprisonment.
It must be noted that earlier on 4 November 2020, Karl was initially charged with two counts under Sections 177 and 193 of the Penal Code.
The charge of s193 was later amended to Section 182 during the process of the hearing. No explanation was given for why the prosecution changed its charge against Karl.
In Peh’s case, the DPP has noted that courts have imposed sentences longer than six months for the offence of s193.
So why did the DPPs in Karl’s case change his charge along the way, opting for a lesser charge of s182, given the severity of his lies to the court, which nearly resulted in the wrongful imprisonment of Ms Parti for 26 months?
If we compare the two cases, it appears that Karl should have been charged under s195 of the Penal Code for providing or producing false evidence with the intention of causing someone to be convicted of a crime, and if found guilty, he would be penalized the same as a person convicted of that crime.
This could result in him receiving a prison sentence of 26 months, similar to what Ms Parti received, or a sentence that corresponds to the severity of his offence.
This article was first published on The Online Citizen and republished on Gutzy as Minister of Communication and Information Josephine Teo requested the article to be removed under the POFMA declaration that she issued on 21 July 2023
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