Monday, Aug. 10, 2009

Do Not Mess with Singapore

Most cases of petty teenage vandalism end with a slap on the wrist — unless you happen to be in Singapore, which maintains its sparkling standard of cleanliness by meting out draconian punishments to lawbreakers. So learned Michael P. Fay, an 18-year-old high school student from Ohio who was attending the Singapore American School. In 1994, Fay confessed to spray-painting several cars and defacing property during a 10-day vandalism spree. Fay, who later said his confession was coerced, received a typically stiff sentence for his transgression: four months in prison and six strokes from a four-foot-long, six-inch-wide rattan cane. When U.S. officials heard such floggings could allegedly cause permanent damage, they protested the sentence, but Singapore's government, undeterred by the prospect of an international row, carried out the sentence on May 5, 1994.