SMRT vandal: Oliver Fricker gets jail and caning. Barbaric?

Oliver Fricker gets 5 months’ jail and three strokes of the cane for his prank on SMRT.

In my view, this is an extremely harsh punishment, and the caning is downright barbaric. Let’s see this in perspective. Even motorists who kill pedestrians in hit and run accidents get a lighter jail sentence sans the caning. Oliver didn’t kill or threaten anyone with his spray-painting prank. SMRT properties were damaged but the repair bill is loose change to a conglomerate like SMRT.

It was a major embarrassment not only for SMRT but also for the authorities. On the positive side, the episode has galvanised Singapore, the transport operators in particular, to beef up security.

Some may argue that the law is the law, and must be enforced. True, but let’s temper the law with mercy, and not enforce it ruthlessly in an attempt to extract every ounce of flesh.

Apart from a few countries like Malaysia and Indonesia, no other countries in the world cane criminals, not even terrorists. But here in Singapore even for vandalism and immigration offences caning is meted out.

Caning is demeaning and barbaric, often leaving permanent scars as caning is inflicted on bare buttocks.

Caning has no place in modern, civilised societies.

Singapore from time to time makes stirring declarations that it wants to be a kinder and more gracious society. Unless we abolish caning, this aspiration is merely lip service.

Did you know that the wildly popular TV show “Glee” pokes fun at our barbaric practice of caning? Putting Singapore on the map? I’m sure Singapore Tourism Board is not amused.

As a Singaporean, I feel deeply ashamed.

We seem to have something in common with the Taliban.

29 Responses to “SMRT vandal: Oliver Fricker gets jail and caning. Barbaric?”

  1. Fricker was martyred for exposing the serious
    security lapse at SMRT Changi Depot. This in
    a nutshell.

    • Hi,

      I’m an American working and living in Singapore.

      On Sunday, June 20, 2010, my car has been vandalized by well dressed woman, who was driving a fancy car. Her act was caught red-handed by a surveilance camera at the car park.

      I have reported this case to the police. They came down to file a report and reviewed the security’s surveilance video. However, until now, this woman still run freely as if nothing has happened. When I contacted the police regarding the case yesterday, they simply to me to engage a lawyer as the police will not do anything, nor, review the identity of this woman.

      Everyone knows that vandalism is a serious crime in Singapore. It’s very interesting that it didn’t take long for the police to arrest an American (Michael Fay) or a Swiss Citizen (Oliver Fricker) and convicted them for vandalism. However, up until now, the police seems to ignore my case.

      If any of you interest in this story, please feel free to contact me at the contact below.

      Best regards,

      Mobile: (65)-9232-6799, Emal:

      • For certain offences you have to take out a Magistrate Order in order for the police to act. Perhaps this applies to your case.


  2. Hopefully, his appeal yields a good outcome, fingers crossed.

  3. Haha, now Fricker trying to sabo Lloyd. Maybe Lloyd will get double the punishment if caught 😛

    I nearly fell off my chair when I read this in Today:

    Judge See agreed with Deputy Public Prosecutor Sharon Lim who said Fricker had committed “a very serious offence” – and that the whole incident had “alarmed the general public” and “shaken their confidence in the security of protected places”.

    • I reacted similarly.

      We were alarmed (that a public transport operator to whom thousands entrust their lives daily had had its security breached with childlike ease), and our confidence shaken to the very core in the security of protected places.

      Unwittingly, Fricker may have saved hundreds of lives and millions in property damage and lawsuits.

  4. There’s always a positive side to graffiti. It’s a whole culture.

    Caning very susah, ah! It’s also graffiti – on the backside. Creating artwork on buttocks, using the cane instead of spraypaint. Same what!

  5. Only the authorities lack a sense of humour. As customary, they wear a sombre look to project a serious image.

  6. […] – The Asia File: Singapore to cane Swiss man after train graffiti incident – SpotlightOnSingapore: SMRT vandal: Oliver Fricker gets jail and caning. Barbaric? – Singapore Notes: The Price Of Justice [PNSFW] – TOC: Vandalism – the new evil (Message from […]

  7. […] on Singapore is against the punishment of caning. Recently, a foreigner who was found guilty of vandalizing a train in Singapore was sentenced to 5 […]

  8. […] blogger, Roger Poh, called the caning ‘demeaning and barbaric', and also slammed Singapore's aspirations […]

  9. Yes the sentence is barbaric-for anyone, and Singapore proves itself to be a third world country once again. This homoerotic sadomasochistic ritual has no place in modern day civilized society
    and only men are the victims of this sadism as women are not equal under the law and cannot be beaten. By sentencing men to this archaic brutality men are stripped naked and tied up and bound to a trestle whereby a male guard that is paid to deliberately inflict pain and suffering uses a wooden whip soaked in chemicals to strike the victim over and over and over again until bleeding and mutilation and or scarring is the result. Other male guards and a doctor (I use the term loosely) enjoy the entire spectacle unti the male is untied needing medical attention and or hospitalization. This is the Singapore’s S/M world that male offenders are subjected to. For years human rights organizations have long condemned this country for this abuse and this is against the United Nations conventions against tortrue and cruel and inhuman treatment and punishment, but Singapore ignores international law and thumbs its nose at the UN, and this violence goes on and on. Degrading, dehumanizing, and disgusting.

    • Thanks for your insights. There’s no doubt the political leadership possesses a sadistic streak. And they’re all men as you rightly pointed out.

  10. […] – The Asia File: Singapore to cane Swiss man after train graffiti incident – SpotlightOnSingapore: SMRT vandal: Oliver Fricker gets jail and caning. Barbaric? – Singapore Notes: The Price Of Justice [PNSFW] – TOC: Vandalism – the new evil (Message from […]

  11. I think they ought to give the cane a thorough test run on Prosecutor Ms Sharon Lim so she can evaluate for herself whether it fits the crime and just how effective it is at reforming behaviour. Start stripping a few women under 50 naked, strapping them to a trestle and and caning the hide off them with a 4 foot long half inch thick cane and I venture that the public debate will change course very quickly.

    • Konban wa. Hmm… a thought-provoking perspective. Arigato.


      Roger Poh Dum Spiro Spero

    • That is absolutely when this nightmare will cease to exist. Can you imagine the public outcry across theworld? The government surely could not handle it. This sadistic government of LKY and familys days are numbered. Until then international companys and corportations better take a good look at operating in this uncivilsed country and start putting the price tag of human rights on their commerce. Can you imagine that there is a Disneyland in Singapore? GOD HELP MICKEY MOUSE!!

      • The sad fact is that when there’s money to be made, big business looks the other way. Universal Studios already here so can Disneyland be far away?

        Some argue for caning to apply only for violent crimes. They may have a case there.

        Even for extortion one faces caning. Why a jail sentence isn’t enough but we have to whip them is something I fail to understand.

    • But the judicial is independent from the legislative arm. Not right also for the court to change the law and punishment at their whim and fancy.

      Also the DPP doesn’t pass the judgement. We have a judge for that. Our lady is innocent.

      • I read somewhere there is a minimum of three strokes for vandalism. So let’s not blame the court for that. 😉

  12. I am an outsider from the west and I have always found it odd that a man can be caned but not a woman. It is totally sexist! Although I would have little sympathy for violent criminals (my ear is a bit mangled after a bite by the way) it is still a dubious punishment and a damned sexy one at that.
    I feel a great sadness for Herr Fricker’s situation. A man of his age should have known better but he will be branded and suffer for the rest of his days, even if the officer dishing out the punishment goes lightly on him and leaves not any scars.
    I still feel for Michael Fay concerning his case years ago. People still revel in condemning him to this day despite evidence that he did not spray those cars, although he was in possession of some public highway and rail signs as I understand.
    As for Mr. Lloyd Alexander; I suggest he keeps running and does not stop. I hate vandalism but the response must be a hard but tempered one.

    • Sidney, you can be assured when international relation is concerned, Singapore does thread her steps very carefully. I believe the general consensus was that Fay did vandalise those cars.

  13. General consensus can be wrong but I revile the way people keep on demeaning Fay. If he did it he has paid and if not then the injustice can not be put into words.
    I still think it is absolute tosh that one sex can be caned and not the other. Singapore would execute a woman for murder or drug smuggling so why not cane them too?
    It also worries me who decides who is guilty. The courts have been wrong many times in the past and would not wish to admit a wrong having meted out such an horrendous punishment. It is vile and is a sexual assault against the prisoner. I might frown on Herr Fricker and his accomplice for their actions but to be stripped and tied to a frame and lashed is something out of a Dante nightmare. No!

    • The current administration is convinced that whipping is a deterrent but judging by the frequency of its use, its effectiveness is dubious.

      The brutality of whipping is lost on the political leadership who continue to revel in an 18th century form of judicial punishment.

      Errors have been made, and compensation given but the scars, both physical and psychological, will inevitably haunt the victim for the rest of his life.

      • It depends on the metrics you are using. Caning might be more frequent now, but we should factor in our higher population. How many caning per thousand people?

  14. Hey Charles you should get that into the US press and just let the USA and the world know the double standards that Singapore practices. The offences that Fay was allegedly involved in were in fact water soluble paint on cars and more of a nuisance than a serious crime. The cars could be cleaned off with water and T, cut and did not need the attention of a specialist body shop.
    Hypocrisy rules in Singapore it would seem.

  15. And how many men have taken there own lives as a result of their punishment as the mental trauma became too much for them? And how many wrongly convicted men have been caned or would Singapore and neighbouring Malaya never own up to that fact?

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