Penalty framework to be reviewed following sentencing of NUS student who strangled ex-girlfriend

Public outrage at an NUS student who strangled his ex-girlfriend receiving community-based sentences has prompted a review of penalties for similar cases to be conducted.

Low Jia Ying
Low Jia Ying

Published: 21 July 2020, 6:59 PM

Much controversy has emerged over the recent sentencing of National University of Singapore (NUS) student Yin Zi Qin, who strangled his ex-girlfriend.

On Jul 17, the 23-year-old was sentenced to a Short Detention Order of 12 days, a day reporting order for five months, and 80 hours of community service after he was convicted for voluntarily causing hurt to his ex-girlfriend.

The second-year dentistry student had strangled and pressed his thumb against the victim’s left eye, causing it to bleed, after she refused to continue their relationship. She fainted and was later sent to the hospital for treatment.

Many have expressed that his sentence was too lenient for the severity of his offence. For voluntarily causing hurt, Zi Qin could have been fined a maximum of $5,000, and jailed for up to two years, or both.

Two online petitions calling for harsher penalties for Zi Qin, who has since been suspended from NUS, have garnered over 29,000 signatures in total as of Jul 21.

One of the petitions called on NUS to expel Zi Qin from the university.

These concerns have prompted ministers and members of parliament (MPs) to share their thoughts on the case on their social media platforms.

The People’s Action Party Women’s Wing released a press statement on Jul 21, noting that they are “dismayed” at the “disproportionate” sentencing of the case.

In response to the sentence of the dentistry student who tried to strangle his ex-girlfriend, the PAP Women's Wing (WW)...

Posted by People's Action Party on Monday, 20 July 2020

In a Facebook post, Minister for Home Affairs and Law, K Shanmugam said that female MPs have spoken to him and he “can understand their unhappiness”.

He stated that he has asked his ministry to review what penalties should be applied in these cases.

[Assault case] Many have written to me to express disappointment that Mr Yin Zi Qin was sentenced to a Short Detention...

Posted by K Shanmugam Sc on Tuesday, 21 July 2020

The Ministry of Home Affairs will also be reviewing the extent to which the educational background of the offenders should be relevant, as well as the relativity in punishment for this offence and other offences.

“We will work closely with some stakeholders when conducting this review. When the review is completed, I will make a statement in Parliament,” said Mr Shanmugam.

Senior Minister of State at the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), Sim Ann noted that Singaporean youths have expressed their disappointment over the sentencing and raised questions on whether the punishments for crimes against women are “sufficient and fair”.

She has called on MCCY and the National Youth Council to gather and convey youth views on this issue.

“We can have very useful discussions which can meaningfully contribute to deliberations on policy changes concerning such matters, which are also of wider interest to society,” she said.

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