On this date 16 years ago, a famous American citizen called Michael Fay, was brought into Queenstown Remand Prison. One of the residents, Mr Tan, who lives in Margaret Drive, recollects the beeline of reporters hovering outside the remand prison as though the Prison is "offering some goodies for discount".
Michael Fay was kept in Queenstown Remand Prison on 31st March 1994
For younger Singaporean who did not know who is Michael Fay. He was an American teenager who stirred a media frenzy after he was sentenced to six stroked of the cane for vandalising 18 cars over a ten-day period in September 1993. Besides vanadalism, he was charged for the illegal possession of stolen items like the Singapore flags and road signs! He shot to fame and attracted international scrutiny on Singapore's judicial system and ex-American president Bill Clinton had even pleaded for leniency as he believed the corporal punishment was too harsh. A diplomatic crisis follows. Critics launched scathing attacks on Singapore's judicial system as barbaric and archaic and gave terrifying descriptions on how the corporal punishment would do to the body. They considered the corporal punishment as one of Singapore asseting Asian values towards "western decadence" and portrayed the teenager as a victim of human rights abuse! (What crap!) However, that was only the wishful thinking from the American government. A poll conducted by CNN subsequently revealed that the Americans were against their leaders on interfering with Singapore's judicial system and an overwhelming 91% appreciate Singapore's low crime environment was made possible by its strict laws. Some of the public even suggested that Bill Clinton should learn from Singapore and adopt corporal punishment.
This issue concluded when Singapore has decided to decrease on the number of strokes from 6 to 4 based on good relations with the US. Personally, I was pretty disgusted by America, champion of freedom and sovereignty could interfere with our beliefs and judicial systems. Many Singaporeans rallied behind the government and believe the punishment is fair and just to deter such criminals.
At certain periods throughout the month of February and March, the two-lane Margaret Drive is jammed and often patrolled by the Police. Mr Ahmad, who traveled to Commonwealth Avenue Cooked Food Centre daily for meals from his house in Stirling Road, commented, "I have never seen so many police!. I thought there were royalists or ministers visiting this place!." There were much inconvenience certainly but I guess it was a good lesson for us to learn.
Widespread International media coverage
A comic published in the newspapers about the crime.