A Canon Singapore employee who wrote on Facebook that he wanted permission to “open fire” on lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT) was fined S$3,500 by a district court on Friday (Nov 4), after he admitted to a reduced charge of making a threatening communication likely to cause alarm.
Bryan Lim Sian Yang, 37, was initially hauled to court for making an electronic record inciting violence, which holds a maximum penalty of five years’ jail, a fine, or both.
On June 4 this year, Lim made the following comment on an anti-LGBT Facebook page We are Against Pink Dot in Singapore: “I am a Singaporean citizen. I am an NSman. I am a father. And I swore to protect my nation. Give me the permission to open fire. I would like to see these £@€$^*s die for their causes.”
He was responding to a post about foreign sponsorship for the annual LGBT event, held at the Speakers’ Corner on the same day.
His comment went viral, and he later took it down and apologised for it. But at least 13 individuals – including Mr Leow Yong Fatt, the executive director of LGBT counselling group Oogachaga – lodged police reports over the inflammatory remarks.
Calling for a S$4,000 fine to be imposed, deputy public prosecutor Wong Woon Kwong said that Lim had intended to express his “strong objection” against the perception that foreign organisations were supporting the LGBT cause and attempting to normalise homosexuality here.
“By laying plain his threat of violence and seeking permission to open fire from people he believed to be his like-minded brethren (on the anti-LGBT Facebook page), the accused would have further aroused the emotions of people who disapproved of the LGBT community and lifestyle, and inflamed what, by his own admission, the accused knew to be deeply emotional issues,” said DPP Wong.
He added that the alarm generated among the public was fuelled by a mass shooting in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida in the US on June 12.
Despite acknowledging that the comment “could not have come at a worse time” and that Lim was apologetic, defence lawyer Adrian Wee said that his client’s words were targeted at foreign organisations seeking to “exert social influence” by backing the LGBT cause, and not the LGBT community in general.
“The (foreign sponsorship) issues set out above touch upon many things, including social and family values, as well as the sovereignty of the nation. The accused felt that he had a duty as a father to uphold what he felt were societal values and a duty as a citizen and NSman to protect the sovereignty and social fabric of the nation,” said Mr Wee.
To that, District Judge Low Wee Ping remarked sceptically that there was “quite a significant difference” in the target group.
In his sentencing remarks, Judge Low said that Singaporeans may champion many causes, but their means were not justified by these causes.
“It'll be useful if this court states the following to the public. There are many causes for Singaporeans. I can safely say there is little prohibition on that, subject to some very sensitive areas,” he said. “Clearly, this court does not wish to comment on the cause you’re championing, but has simply found you guilty for the manner of which you have communicated on your Facebook (page) in championing your cause.”
Lim had since been subjected to disciplinary action at work and was redeployed to another department.