SINGAPORE — After he was fired for secretly recording a business meeting and his poor performance, a man sent insulting messages to his direct supervisor and a female colleague at his company.
Stuart Kuek Zhi Hong, 36, had been on probation at the engineering firm when he was caught recording the meeting.
The four months after he was fired, Kuek sent e-mails to his supervisor and another female colleague saying that there was a "special place in hell" for them. He also threatened to urinate on their parents' grave and said he would flip through the obituaries to look for their names.
On Wednesday (12 May), the State Courts called for reports to assess Kuek's suitability for a mandatory treatment order (MTO), community service order (CSO) and day reporting order (DRO).
He had pleaded guilty to four charges under the Protection from Harassment Act for intentionally causing distress to the two victims via WhatsApp or e-mail. Another five counts of a similar nature were taken into consideration for sentencing.
Mental health conditions since childhood
Kuek's lawyer, Edmond Pereira, told the court that his client had been suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and oppositional defiant disorder since he was a child and that, despite all odds, he had managed to obtain a law degree after studying for a decade.
Pereira noted that Kuek is now employed as a legal officer and leads a stable, married life.
Kuek was employed by the engineering firm on 23 October 2017 with one of the victims – a 52-year-old deputy human resources director – as his direct supervisor.
He was on probation when he was caught illicitly recording a business meeting and was fired on 15 January 2018. Feeling that his termination was unfair, Kuek wrote to the company's deputy human resources director and contracts manager – a 58-year-old woman – to express his unhappiness.
On 26 January that year, Kuek sent a harassing WhatsApp message to the woman, which said: "Have a unsafe flight back from Fujairah. I hope your plane crashes on the way". It also contained messages such as "There is a special place in hell for people like you" and "I’ll be flipping the obituaries to find you there and I’ll piss on your grave."
About a month later, he e-mailed the man, stating "You have no balls to represent your own interest", and "Maybe only your mouth is full of s**t inside".
On 1 April, Kuek e-mailed the man again, stating "Are your parents dead? If they are can you please tell me where they are buried so I can take a piss and s**t on their grave?" and "I look forward to seeing you in the obituaries". He also suggested that the man's wife was having an affair while the man was at work.
Ten minutes later, Kuek e-mailed the woman, suggesting that she was promiscuous.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Jeremy Bin said that Kuek had engaged in protracted conduct over four months and had conducted research into the victims' personal affairs – as seen in his references to their children – in order to harass the two victims.
DPP Bin asked for a two-week short detention order, which was rejected by Pereira, who asked for a combination of MTO, CSO and DRO.
Pereira said that his client had been suffering from his mental health conditions since he was 12 and had stopped treatment for 14 years.
Kuek had been exempted from national service and was sent overseas for his studies as his parents could not find a suitable school in Singapore due to his conditions, said the lawyer. After he studied in the US, Kuek wanted to study law and was sent to the UK. It took him 10 years to get his degree, Pereira noted.
Client was unfairly treated: defence lawyer
At the time of the offences, Kuek perceived that he had been unfairly treated, the lawyer said.
"He was labouring under those conditions and from those conditions that triggered the very emotionally charged, anger-laden outburst in him. Each time he saw and felt something he straightaway sent the e-mails," said Pereira.
An Institute of Mental Health psychiatrist had stated, however, that there was no contributory link between his disorders and his offending acts, and observed that Kuek's actions were not impulsive as he had unsuccessfully tried to seek redress from the Ministry of Manpower before venting anger against the victims.
In reply, DPP Bin objected to an MTO report and pointed out that the psychiatrists who assessed Kuek had said that his condition had not been full blown but were residual symptoms instead.
Kuek will return for his sentencing on 17 June. For intentionally causing distress, Kuek may be jailed up to six months, fined up to $5,000, or both, on each count.
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