A 56-year-old unemployed elderly seeking social assistance was sentenced to jail today (Feb 29) for assaulting a Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) officer after being embarrassed by her questions. According to the state media, the 34-year-old MSF officer was only asking Tan Seng Choon questions why there were large withdrawals being made from his bank accounts. When Tan Seng Choon was only able to say he lent them to his friends and was unable to produced any documents, the MSF officer said she did not believe him. This led to a slap on the MSF officer’s face and the elderly continued his assault in a rage raining punches on the woman.

Colleagues of the MSF officer by then intervened and the police arrested Tan Seng Choon on the spot. The victim did not suffer any serious injuries or bleeding. Tan Seng Choon’s pro bono lawyer noted that he was a mental patient who schizoaffective disorder since the 1970s, but the Institute of Mental Health said in a Jan 2016 report that Tan Seng Choon is aware of his actions and deemed him fit to plead guilty.

District Judge John Ng ruled that Tan Seng Choon “must realise the seriousness of his offence” and that the attack was “disproportionate and terrifying”, and ruled a 6-month jail sentence for the poor man.

Comments on this case have sparked a fury of allegations against the Singapore Court for imposing harsher sentences against Singaporeans as compared to foreigners.

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