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Man gets jail for racially attacking Indian-origin woman in Singapore

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Singapore, Aug 7: A 32-year-old man in Singapore has been sentenced to three months’ prison and ordered to pay S$13.20 as compensation for racially insulting and kicking an Indian-origin woman in 2021.

While handing down the sentence on Monday, District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan stressed that racial and religious hostility can have dire consequences in Singapore’s society, The Straits Times reported.

Wong Xing Fong was convicted in June for racially targeting private tutor Hindocha Nita Vishnubhai, 57, while she was walking to work near the Northvale condominium in Choa Chu Kang in May 2021.

Judge Saruwan said that Wong committed the offences in a brazen manner and had displayed a lack of remorse, adding that a deterrent sentence is paramount in this case.

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The prosecution had sought a six and nine months’ jail, arguing that the incident should not be viewed as a simple assault case. Nita had told the court in June this year that she was walking with her mask down when she heard Wong and his fiancee shouting at her to “mask up”.

A mother of two adult children, she told the couple that she had lowered her mask below her nose to prevent breathlessness as she was brisk-walking, and gestured to show she was exercising and sweating.

At the time, people were allowed to remove their masks when engaging in strenuous exercise, but had to put them back on after exercise, the prosecution told the court.

Wong instead scolded Nita and verbally insulted her. To de-escalate the matter, the victim responded,”God bless you” but Wong kicked her in the chest. Nita also testified in January that she would cry if she returned to the site of the attack.

“(The incident) affects me emotionally… I feel sad and scared. Is it wrong to be Indian? I didn’t choose to be Indian… I wish this didn’t happen… Till today, you (take) me to that road, I will cry. I was very scared,” she told the judge.

Wong in his defence claimed that Nita was sarcastic and aggressive, and had hurled vulgarities at him, The Straits Times reported.

He said he had pushed Nita because she spat at him and his fiancee. While he accepted that he had used vulgarities, he denied they were racial insults. For assaulting another person in a racially aggravated attack, an offender can be jailed for up to four years and six months, and fined up to S$7,500.

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