A man who received only 21 months probation for molesting a woman at an MRT station wrote an apology letter to his victim as part of his defense team’s mitigation efforts, something she said she had no clue existed.
Karmen Siew, the woman groped three times on the MRT and subsequently the Serangoon station by Terrence Siow Kai Yuan, said yesterday that she never received the letter used by the defense in its case, which ended with Siow confessing to “outrage of modesty” and receiving nothing more than community service due to his promising future.
The letter’s existence was first reported by Chinese-language Shin Min Daily on Saturday.
“I was never given a copy and had no idea it existed prior to Shinmin bringing it up,” Siew wrote online Sunday. “Is it even acceptable to release such a letter, now that the appeal court will review the case?”
On Wednesday, the judge in the trial, Jasvender Kaur, overruled a prosecution request the National University of Singapore student get six weeks in jail, citing Siow’s crimes as “minor intrusions” and saying his academic results showed that the young man had potential to excel in life. Prosecutors have appealed the sentence.
In the letter allegedly handwritten and addressed to Siew, Siow said he was “deeply remorseful” over what he had done and that his university had “punished” him by suspending him from school.
“I realized that my actions that day showed an utter lack of respect and basic empathy,” he reportedly wrote. “I wasn’t the most clear-headed that night, and as a result I ended up being unable to control myself and ultimately gave in to my urges.”
He said he was getting treatment to get “back on the right track.”
“I understand that molestation is a serious offense, and that the root cause of my actions was my indecent mentality. Hence, I am currently undergoing counseling and seeking psychiatric treatment to bring myself back on the right track in life.”
“Please give me a chance to correct myself and become a value-adding member of society again,” he is said to have added.
Siew said Sunday that she was “never given a copy” of the letter and only learned about it in the Shin Min Daily report.
Judge Kaur’s decision to let Siow off with a slap on the wrist sparked nationwide outrage, with netizens slamming the lenient sentencing and questioning why good grades had contributed to the judge’s rationale. Even law minister K Shanmugam announced online that he was surprised by the verdict, adding that the prosecution had filed to appeal the sentence.
A petition asking netizens to “take a stand against favoritism for sex offenders” was on the verge of receiving 70,000 supporters as of Monday morning.
Groped her ‘genital area’
According to court records, the incident happened in September 2018 when both Siow and Siew were aboard the train. Siow reportedly caught sight of the victim, moved to sit next to her, and from there, touched Siew’s legs twice. When she arrived at the Serangoon MRT station, he followed her — and groped her again while they were on the station’s escalator.
The news media have widely reported that Siow touched her buttocks, but according to the victim’s own Facebook post, it was her “genital area.” Siow stopped only after Siew shouted at him, according to court hearings. He walked away, but Siew reported him to an MRT officer and subsequently filed a police report, leading police to arrest Siow three days later, The New Paper reported.
The victim also stated that she refused to accept S$5,000 (US$3,600) compensation by Siow’s camp in exchange for a lighter sentence.
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