A 32-year-old man who racially abused an Indian-origin woman in Singapore and kicked her in the chest in 2021 should be jailed between six and nine months, the prosecution has pleaded before a court, PTI reported. In May 2021, Wong Xing Fong attacked Hindocha Nita Vishnubhai, a complete stranger to him, in Choa Chu Kang, a residential town in the West Region of Singapore. amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. This was reported by the Singaporean paper, The Straits Times on Tuesday.
Nita, 57, had earlier testified that on May 7, 2021, she was brisk walking with her mask down to Choa Chu Kang Stadium when she heard someone shouting. Wong along with his fiancee Chua Yun Han, whom Nita did not know, told her to “mask up”. At the time, Singapore allowed people to remove their masks when engaging in strenuous exercise, mandating simply that they had to put them back on once they were done.
In their submissions, Deputy Public Prosecutor Marcus Foo said Nita explained to Wong and his fiancee that she was brisk-walking, and gestured to show that she was exercising and sweating. The prosecution said: “The accused instead scolded the complainant (and verbally insulted her). To de-escalate the matter, the complainant responded, "God bless you".
“The accused, however, kicked the complainant in her chest area. He and (his fiancee) then jogged off.”
Nita testified that an eyewitness helped her to her feet and applied plaster to a wound on her left forearm. However, Wong had earlier claimed that she was sarcastic and aggressive, and had hurled vulgarities at him. He also claimed she spat at him and his fiancee, and he reacted by pushing Nita. While he accepted that he had used vulgarities, he denied they were racial slurs.
Describing Nita as a truthful witness, the Deputy Public Prosecutor told the judge: “It is absurd to suggest that the complainant framed the accused, a stranger, out of the blue.”
Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan in June this year convicted Wong of one count each of assault and wounding the victim’s racial feelings. Deputy Public Prosecutor Foo urged the judge to give Wong a jail term on the higher end of the range. Stressing the importance of community and racial harmony, Foo said Wong had committed serious offences and strong deterrence was needed. The prosecutor added the case had caused significant public disquiet.
Defence lawyer Sim Bing Wen, however, pleaded for his client to be given two weeks’ jail time and told the judge that Wong was a kind, caring and devoted man who had acted out of character.
Wong is expected to be sentenced on August 7. 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 10,000 Singaporean Dollars ($7500), as per Singaporean law.