How not to get caned in Singapore

You have heard about judicial caning in Singapore, but do you know what acts are punishable with caning and how to avoid getting sentenced?

In 1994, the story of Michael P. Fay went viral. This 19-year old American student from SAS was sentenced for vandalizing cars. The teenager spent four months in prison and received four strokes from a four-foot-long, six-inch-wide rattan cane.

According to Singapore Penal Code website, vandalism is defined as “writing, drawing, painting, marking or inscribing on any public or private property without permission” as well as “stealing, destroying or damaging any public property.” The minimum amount of strokes one can be sentenced to is three; the maximum is eight.

Vandalism is one of the most common public offenses and probably the one SAS students should be most aware of, but it’s not the only one. There are some obvious crimes resulting in caning, such as rape, attempt to murder, and kidnapping. However, there are also some not-so-obvious ones.

SAS students were asked if they knew what offenses were punishable by caning.

“You get caned for rape, that’s for sure,” said senior Bryce Ueling. “Not for stealing.”

“I think minors get caned if they steal things… also for underage drinking?” said junior Tia Abdi.

“Drug distribution, not drug use though,” said senior Kaity Holl.

It turned out that SAS students don’t know much about caning. So what are the not-so-obvious crimes that could result in this Singaporean punishment? The following are listed on the Singapore Penal Code website:

-Entering or remaining in Singapore without a valid pass (3-24 strokes)

-Illegal overstayers for a period exceeding 90 days (3-24 strokes)

-Trafficking of a minimum quantity of drugs (2-15 strokes)

-Repeat consumption of specified drugs (3-12 strokes)

-Robbery (12-24 strokes)

-Attempt to commit robbery (6-24 strokes)

-Piracy (12-24 strokes)

-Sexual penetration of a minor (12-24 strokes)

Caning is normally confined to males between the ages of 16 and 50. However, this doesn’t mean that younger boys don’t get punished. The procedure for caning boys under 16 in Singapore is the same as for adult men, except that a smaller rattan is used. Caning is also a legal method of punishment of male youths in Singaporean schools.

Even though women are not subject to judicial caning, punishment of children of either gender by caning is used by some parents in Singapore and is allowed by the government.

While Michael Fay’s punishment was the minimum according to World Corporal Punishment website, it still left a “few streaks of blood” and three permanent scars, as he related to reporters after the event. So if you like graffiti, be warned: it would be safer to abstain from displaying your talent on public or private property or anywhere in this country.

Author: Anna Sorokina

Anna Sorokina is a first-year reporter on the Eye. Originally from Russia, this senior enjoys writing poetry, reading novels, and cooking. sorokina45401@sas.edu.sg

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