"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Thursday, March 09, 2017

Joshua Robinson

A case that has raised a furore:

Public prosecutor decides not to appeal Joshua Robinson sentence

"The public prosecutor has decided not to appeal against the four-year jail sentence for the MMA instructor who had sex with two 15-year-old girls and filmed them, Singapore's Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) said on Wednesday (Mar 8).

Robinson's sentence last Thursday sparked an online petition, which has garnered nearly 27,000 signatures to date. The person who started the petition called the sentence "unacceptable and absolutely intolerable".

Most of the outraged do not understand the law. Nor do they understand precedent.

There is a claim that Robinson is getting off lightly (some allege that it's because he's white, aka AMDK).

Let us look at 3 other cases where men were sentenced for having sex with 15 year old girls, and we will see that Robinson is not being treated very leniently:

1) Former journalist jailed 18 months for having underage sex with 15-year-old

Teo got 18 months "only" for having sex with a 15 year old girl.

This is even though there was "exploitation" (he was in a mentor position and arguably took advantage of her mental illness) and she was traumatised and tried to kill herself.

In light of that, 4 years for Robinson doesn't seem too far off (depending on how you weight the child porn, having sex with another 15 year old and showing the 6 year old porn).

2) Man sentenced to 12 months' jail for having sex with 15-year-old girl

Riduwan "only" got 12 months for having sex with a 15 year old girl.

Notice the sentence is less than in the first case because he was not in a mentor position and did not take advantage of her, and the victim was not traumatised (presumably).

3) Deliveryman jailed 20 months for having sex with 15-year-old girl

Shamil was jailed for 20 months.


He didn't care about the girl (he wanted to give her abortion pills and said he only "liked her a bit"), and she got pregnant and thus suffered.

And apparently he did a lot of bad things in a short period of time.

Note that this sentence was given even though she initiated the relationship.

In the case of Robinson, there're some points to consider:

He didn't get sentenced to caning (that's for those under 14).

He had consensual sex with the 15 year old girls.

We don't penalise child porn particularly because normal porn is already illegal.

He had sex with 15 year olds, which is less serious than if they were 14.

We don't know what kind of "child porn" he had. For all we know, most of it was videos put up by 17 year old teens on Tumblr themselves; consider that sexual crimes involving a 15 year old, a 12 year old and a 4 year old would all be lumped together under "pedophilia" or similar categories - even though they are all manifestly differently.

He was a first time offender (which is why he had been featured by Contact Singapore).

Also Robinson seems to have had lots of positive testimonials, which would've mitigated his sentence.

Originally, I thought that we also didn't have the moral panic about "protecting" "children" that they have in, say, the US. Which wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Yet the "disquiet" that has gone up suggests that we may indeed be moving in that direction.

And now it turns out that the laws might be reviewed:

Relook sentences for offenders like Joshua Robinson: K Shanmugam

One thing that should be kept in mind - but unfortunately might not - is that 'Hard cases make bad law'

"'Hard cases make bad law' isn't so much a universal proverb as a legal adage. It came to light in a comment made by Judge Robert Rolf in the case of Winterbottom v Wright in 1842:

This is one of those unfortunate cases...in which, it is, no doubt, a hardship upon the plaintiff to be without a remedy but by that consideration we ought not to be influenced. Hard cases, it has frequently been observed, are apt to introduce bad law.

The case required a judgment on whether third parties are able to sue for injury. The unusual nature of the case caused the judge to realise that, in the true sense of the expression, exceptions prove the rule and that, unfair as it might have appeared in some circumstances, the law was better drafted under the influence of the average case rather than the exceptional one.

The point was made explicitly in 1903 by V. S. Lean, in Collectanea:

Hard cases make bad law. that is, lead to legislation for exceptions."

Addendum: According to the AGC press release possession of obscene films got him 6 months and exhibiting an obscene object to a young person another 6
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