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The Straits Times
Aug 8, 2023
When her son failed to report for national service on April 23, 2021, three Central Manpower Base (CMPB) enlistment inspectors went to K. Santhi A. Krishnasamy’s home.
They served an order for her son to report to the CMPB three days later, to assist in investigations into an offence under the Enlistment Act.
Insisting that they take back the order, she grabbed the wrist of one of the inspectors.
The inspector suffered abrasions on her arm and a shoulder injury, for which she was still undergoing physiotherapy.
K. Santhi, 58, had claimed trial to two counts of voluntarily causing hurt to a public servant, and using criminal force to a public servant.
She was convicted of these charges on July 3. On Monday, she appeared in court to be sentenced.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Colin Ng said in his closing submissions in June that the woman’s son, Mr Kavinsarang Shin, had failed to turn up for enlistment at the Basic Military Training Centre on Pulau Tekong on the morning of April 23, 2021.
That day, at about 5pm, three CMPB enlistment inspectors arrived at K. Santhi’s flat to serve an order for her son to report to CMPB to assist in investigations.
One of the inspectors, Mr Ang Wei Cong, read the order to Mr Shin, but K. Santhi insisted that her son was not familiar with the facts of the case and refused to accept the order.
She then wrote a note on the order calling it a “falsehood”, and insisted on returning it to Mr Ang. The inspectors did not take the order, and walked towards the lift lobby.
Inspector Adeline Joyce Neubronner testified that K. Santhi grabbed her right wrist, prompting her to cry out in pain.
Mr Ang and the third inspector, Mr Vincent Lee Sian Fung, tried to get K. Santhi to let go of their colleague, but she continued pulling Ms Neubronner’s hand.
K. Santhi also grabbed Mr Ang’s body-worn camera, flung it to the floor and kicked it away. Mr Ang then performed an armlock to prevent her from causing further harm.
Her husband arrived at the lift lobby, and Mr Ang told him to control his wife, while Mr Lee called the police.
Ms Neubronner was diagnosed with superficial abrasions on both arms, and a right shoulder sprain.
During the trial, Ms Neubronner said she was traumatised by the incident. “I felt that we were just doing our job, and we understand as public front-liners, unexpected things would happen, but not to this extent.”
K. Santhi claimed the inspectors had a right to go to her home only if her son was found to be fit for enlistment.
The DPP responded that determining pre-enlistees’ fitness for enlistment is not within the purview of the inspectors, and they had verified with CMPB that her son was fit for enlistment before heading down.
The prosecutor said this incident could have been resolved amicably without violence, but K. Santhi took matters into her own hands.
K. Santhi, who did not have a lawyer, claimed in her mitigation that her son had been enlisted without a review by a cardiologist after his electrocardiogram showed abnormalities.
She claimed she still had not received information that she requested from the Ministry of Defence about her son’s enlistment. He has since completed his NS.
She said: “I asked for (an) explanation in a very respectful manner. I spent the last two years worrying every day, about whether my son would lose his life during NS.
“The prosecution has said that I have no remorse. As a mother seeking to keep her son safe, it is true, I have no remorse. In fact, I feel that it was my responsibility to do everything in my power.”
DPP Ng called for her to be jailed for between four months and a week, and six months and two weeks for her offences against the CMPB inspectors.
Separately, K. Santhi was also charged with entering Bukit Gombak Camp without a permit on three occasions in 2021, and with committing criminal trespass by unlawfully remaining at the People’s Action Party’s Henderson-Dawson branch at around 10.50pm on Aug 30 that year.
She also faces a charge of refusing to answer a police officer’s questions about one of the alleged offences at Bukit Gombak Camp.
These five charges were stood down during the trial.
As K. Santhi said she would need time to consider her position on these charges, District Judge Christopher Goh adjourned sentencing to Aug 25.