SINGAPORE — A woman of Indian descent was listening to music on a public bus when she realised another woman was speaking at her.
When the 33-year-old Singaporean woman turned off her music player, she was greeted with a barrage of vitriolic racist remarks from 40-year-old Siti Ai’sha Jaffar.
Siti, also a Singaporean, was jailed for four weeks on Wednesday (23 June) after she pleaded guilty to one charge of deliberately wounding the racial feelings of another person.
The prosecution sought two to four weeks’ jail for Siti, citing recent high-profile incidents of racial abuse and people voicing racially offensive views in public.
On the morning 3 September last year, the victim boarded Service 182 at Tuas Checkpoint and found a seat at the back of the bus' lower deck. Siti was the only other passenger on the bus and was seated at the front of the bus, near the bus captain.
While on the bus, the victim listened to music on her earpiece. At some point she noticed Siti staring and gesturing at her. The victim stopped playing her music and then heard Siti calling her an Indian with dark skin. She took out her mobile phone and recorded Siti discreetly.
After recording Siti for a while, the victim confronted her and asked if there was anything wrong but Siti continued her verbal abuse. The victim then called the police and asked the bus captain to stop the bus close to the Singapore Discovery Centre.
Three videos clips obtained from the victim’s phone recorded Siti shouting, “Your heart is also black ... everything is black”. Siti also insulted the victim's appearance.
She was also recorded saying, “stupid foreigners come to Singapore, this is Singapore ... make yourself millions of dollars, go to USA”.
Siti also said, “(We) will find you and you will be charged in court and pay the court fees, if you find me anywhere, I will charge you in court, you f****** Indians, charged in court, no money to pay.”
Two of the video clips were played in court.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Kwang Jia Min sought two to four weeks’ jail, describing Siti’s remarks as “vindictive” and based on the colour of the victim's skin. It was also protracted and entirely unprovoked, the DPP said.
In the light of recent incidents involving racism, there was a heightened need for general deterrence and Siti's sentence would go a long way in showing that such behaviour is unacceptable, said DPP Kwang.
Earlier this month, a mixed-race couple was confronted by a Chinese man, polytechnic lecturer Tan Boon Lee, who said that Indian men preyed on Chinese girls. In May, an Indian woman was physically assaulted by a Chinese man who hurled a racial remark at her.
Asked by District Judge Tan Jen Tse if she had anything to say, Siti replied “No”.
In sentencing Siti, DJ Tan said, “This is of course a very serious offence.” He noted that Siti’s tirades were “prolonged” and took place in public, adding that such offences cannot be condoned in society.
For intentionally wounding the racial or religious feelings of others, a person can be jailed up to three years, fined, or both.
Stay in the know on-the-go: Join Yahoo Singapore's Telegram channel at http://t.me/YahooSingapore
More Singapore stories: