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The Straits Times
Oct 28, 2022
Disbarred lawyer Samuel Seow Theng Beng, who prodded the forehead of one of his subordinates twice with his finger and assaulted a female lawyer at his then law firm, was on Friday sentenced to four weeks’ jail and fined $1,500.
In July 2020, Seow pleaded guilty to one count each of assaulting lawyer Brenda Kong Shin Ying, then 26, who is also his niece, and using criminal force on artiste and events executive Rachel Kang Pei Shan, then 21.
A harassment charge involving Ms Kang and a second charge of using criminal force on a third woman, Ms Serene Tan Tzuu Yen, were considered during sentencing.
In sentencing him, District Judge Ronald Gwee said that this case brought into focus the relationship between employers and employees, stressing that Seow had committed acts of violence.
The judge added: “Such acts must be soundly condemned... These were vulnerable victims owing their livelihoods to (Seow) who was their paymaster.”
Seow, 49, was struck off the rolls on May 18, 2022.
In a written judgment on his disbarment in May, the Court of Three Judges said a striking off was warranted as his conduct demonstrated a character defect rendering him unfit to be a member of the legal profession.
The court, the highest disciplinary body for the legal profession, also said Seow’s behaviour was egregious and evinced such volatility and lack of self-control that it detracts from his ability to discharge his professional functions.
Seow had admitted before a disciplinary tribunal in 2019 to eight instances of professional misconduct involving three women employees at his office in South Bridge Road between March 16, 2018, and April 17, 2018.
Five of the charges related to his intemperate and boorish conduct towards Ms Kang between March 16 and April 3, 2018.
They involved throwing files, boxes, a metal stapler and a wallet in her direction, shouting at her aggressively and threatening to kill her with a knife.
The other three charges related to acts of violence on April 17, 2018, against Ms Kang, Ms Kong and Ms Tan, a secretary and conveyancing executive.
At the time of his offences, Seow ran several companies, including Samuel Seow Law Corporation and talent agency Beam Artistes, where Ms Kang was then working.
She was at Samuel Seow Law Corporation’s office in South Bridge Road on April 17, 2018, and was about to leave for a company event when Seow reprimanded her at about 5.45pm.
In earlier proceedings, Deputy Public Prosecutor Kumaresan Gohulabalan said: “The accused was upset with Rachel as she had uncompleted work and was leaving the office without properly accounting (for) her work to him. In his anger, the accused forcefully poked Rachel’s forehead twice with his right index finger.
“Using his right hand, the accused also pushed a file that Rachel was holding, causing her to stagger back.”
Ms Kang made a police report on May 12, 2018.
Three minutes later, Seow asked aloud for the whereabouts of the firm’s associate director. Ms Kong heard her uncle but did not respond.
Seow later spotted Ms Kong and repeated his question. She replied that the associate director had a meeting from 4pm to 5pm that day, but she did not know where he had gone after that.
Seow then walked towards his niece and repeatedly asked her why she had not replied to his earlier queries.
“The accused came close to Brenda’s face and Brenda raised her arm across her chest to protect herself, fearing that the accused may get violent. In doing so, Brenda accidentally touched the accused’s chest,” DPP Kumaresan said.
Seow then charged towards Ms Kong and exclaimed: “You beat me… you dare to beat me.”
He grabbed her left arm and pushed her back. One of their colleagues saw the altercation and held on to Seow to restrain him.
Seow managed to break free and repeatedly slapped Ms Kong on her cheeks and head. She retaliated by hitting his face once.
Other colleagues who heard the commotion stepped in and pleaded with Seow to calm down.
Still angry, he instead charged again at Ms Kong and pushed his niece against a table, causing her to fall. A male colleague then hugged Seow from behind to separate the pair.
Ms Kong managed to slip away soon after before going to Parkway East Hospital, where she was found to have a bruise on her right arm and an abrasion on her right thigh. She was given three days of medical leave.
The incident involving Ms Kong was captured by a closed-circuit television camera in the office, and the clip was later uploaded on YouTube.
Seow’s bail was set at $5,000 on Friday and he will surrender himself at the State Courts on Nov 3 to begin serving his jail term.
For assault, he could have been jailed for up to two years and fined up to $5,000.
And for using criminal force, he could have been jailed for up to three months and fined up to $1,500.