"Thu, Jan 21, 2010 The Straits Times - Drink-driving doctor escapes jail
A 59-YEAR-OLD doctor will not have to go to jail for drink driving after a successful appeal against her sentence.
Instead, Irene Lim Kay Han, a senior consultant radiologist at the KK Women's and Children's Hospital, was fined the maximum $5,000. She remains banned from driving for four years.
The appeal judge said he will provide a written judgement on why he set aside the jail term, a penalty usually given to drink-driving motorists with high alcohol levels."
This decision has attracted a lot of comments on the AsiaOne.com Forum website with a few commenting that the judiciary is lenient with the elites of the society who had committed, wittingly or otherwise, offences that violated the laws of the land. Apparently there was another case where a news paper person had her jail term reduced to 1 day instead of the original few months after a successful appeal.
Lessons for me are:
1. while this may be an isolated case and there are very good reasons to set aside the jail term, it is important for the judiciary to produce the written judgement quickly to let the people know the basics for such an action. This is especially so when there appeared to be some disquiet about how the elites can get away with crimes with a light sentence vs. an ordinary person. This is not true and the judiciary must clear this misconception as quickly as possible;
2. this is a sign of maturity for a society who such a sentence or decision was made by the judiciary and for the public to raise questions. Of course one must be careful not to insinuate that the court is unfair or has been unduly influenced by the status of the person who violated the laws of the land and committed an offence as it would be contempt of the court. However, if some one's comments appeared to have been overboard, the hands of the laws can be lighter to allow controversial issue to be debated;
3. the written judgement should be published and tracked by the press since it generated some public attention. This will go to allay any unfounded fear that the judiciary is more lenient with the elites and hard on the ordinary people who committed similar offences.
May the reasons be shared and that all reasonable men and women will agree that those are reasonable ground to set aside the 'usual jail term' for such drink-drive offenders.