The headline above from the Singapore Straits Times newspaper web site may seem obscure to many regular readers of the HelpGov blog. But it’s about government in the widest sense and I feel quite strongly about it.
I was alerted to it by comments on Facebook condemning both the alleged perpetrator and his victims in what was said to be a ‘sex-for-grades’ case.
On the face of it, this is the story of a 41 year-old male law professor who had sex with a 23 year-old female student, arguably a minor but salacious court case.
My initial thought was to respond to Singaporeans who commented approvingly of a guilty verdict along the lines of ‘What irks me is that the ladies always treated like they were guiltless’ and ‘Our chaps know the ladies are a contributing factor, no doubts about that.’ I was going to point out that perhaps there was an abuse here by someone who held disproportionate power over much younger students.
The way the poster of the link to the (government-owned) Straits Times had set this up meant I could not respond on his Facebook page.
A couple of clicks on Google and I was glad I didn’t because, lo and behold, as sometimes happens in that country there is an alternative narrative. It’s difficult to summarise all the in and outs of the story but they include
- An academic who writes a book critical of the relationship between the Singapore government and the legal profession of the country
- Failing to find a publisher in Singapore, he has it published in Hong Kong
- The emergence shortly after of allegations that he had indeed traded ‘sex for grades’ with one or more students
- Ambiguity about his university’s response to the allegations
- Questioning by police that lands him in an ambulance trip to hospital
- A trial procedure that on the face of it has a number of curious features about it.
Anyone interested in the story could do worse than read the Trial of Tsun Hang blog.
I don’t know enough to judge where the truth lies in all this but I’m glad I didn’t see the subject as merely a question of cross-cultural differences in the treatment of perpetrator and victim in sex abuse cases.