PAP women say student strangler’s light sentence was ‘disproportionate’

Members of the PAP Women’s Wing in a 2017 photo. Photo: PAP
Members of the PAP Women’s Wing in a 2017 photo. Photo: PAP

The women’s wing of the ruling People’s Action Party said today it has shared concerns over the controversial sentencing of a National University of Singapore student convicted of choking his ex-girlfriend. 

In a rare statement on court sentencing to the Law and Home Affairs ministries, the group said it was dismayed dentistry student Yin Zi Qin last week received only 12 days of detention and community service for strangling and attempting to blind a woman he had been dating.

“Like many members of the public, we are dismayed that the sentence in this case appears disproportionate to the offence,” the group wrote.

Coming after a series of court decisions perceived as lenient toward men convicted of violence against women, the 19-strong group of female lawmakers added that they had reached out to the two ministries, which said they would review the matter. 

The PAP Women’s Wing was formed in 1984 and is headed by Minister of Manpower Josephine Teo. The rare rebuke of the judicial system, which is protected by law against criticism, is the first time in recent memory the PAP has spoken out on a court verdict.

“As we have done before, we will continue to champion women’s issues and their protection and advancement in Singapore, in Parliament and elsewhere as appropriate,” the party wrote.

Yin pleaded guilty in February to charges of voluntarily causing hurt and criminal trespass. In May 2019, after his girlfriend attempted to end their relationship, Yin climbed into her window and strangled her. He also pressed his thumb against her eye till it bled, causing her vision to be temporarily impaired. Yin’s attack also left scars on her neck. 

He was sentenced to 12 days of detention, 80 hours of community service and given a Day Reporting Order for five months – a punishment the courts say is reserved for minor offenses.

He was suspended from the university and banned from campus, the university said yesterday. An internal disciplinary proceeding is underway, it added. 

In comes a month after a woman’s rights group called for a special court to handle cases of sexual violence after a doctor was cleared of a rape count for sexually assaulting a student. Outrage erupted last year when another National University of Singapore undergrad, Terence Siow Kai Yuan, was given a slap on the wrist for a series of sexual assaults by a judge who cited his “potential to excel in life.”

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When Yin’s sentence was handed down Friday, outrage erupted anew from those who considered the outcome too lenient. 

A petition demanding the university expel him currently has more than 15,000 signatures.

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