UPDATED 17 June, 315PM, added Facebook comments from Law Minister
Minister for Law K Shanmugam has explained why renowned plastic surgeon Woffles Wu was given a light fine for two speeding traffic offences in 2005 and 2006.
Dr Wu was fined S$1,000 on Wednesday for allowing Kuan Kit Wah, then 76, to provide misleading information to the police in November 2006. Kuan was working a maintenance technician who worked in Wu’s clinic at the time.
The car belonging to Dr Wu, was travelling at 91 kilometers per hour (kmh) on Adam Road when the speed limit is 70kmh. The court heard that Wu also made Kuan take the rap for him for another speeding offence in September 2005. Wu could also have been jailed up to six months and fined.
The case has sparked much debate with many questioning why the doctor was given a mere fine and also why his case took so long to be heard. Even MP for Bishan, lawyer Hri Kumar Nair, expressed surprise at the sentence, posting in his blog that others had been jailed for similar offences.
Wu, 52, a prominent local surgeon who has been featured several times on TV and in high-society magazines, is an expert in the areas of botox, fillers and IPL photo rejuvenation. He has also been named among the top 10 plastic surgeons in the world. His office is located in Camden Medical Centre.
Speaking to reporters on Saturday on the sidelines of a community event in Yishun, Shanmugam dismissed speculation Wu was spared a jail sentence “because he’s rich”, reported The Sunday Times.
In a Facebook post on Sunday afternoon, Shanmugam clarified Wu's sentence.
Explaining why Wu was charged under the Road Traffic Act rather than the more serious section 204 of the Penal Code, Shanmugam wrote, "Dr Wu could not be charged under s204 of the Penal Code because that only came into force in 2008."
Shanmugam added that since Dr Wu's offence was committed in 2006, the court could not charge anyone who committed an offence in 2006 under a provision which came into force in 2008.
On why Wu was charged for abetment, he said it was because the actual info was given by his employee Kuan.
"Dr Wu didn't give the info and could not be charged directly for giving false info. AGC didn't charge Kuan, I assume because he was old and AGC probably took into account the employer-employe relationship, and that justice will probably be best served by charging Dr Wu," he wrote.
As for why he was let off with just a S1,000 fine, Shanmugam said it was within the usual range for the section of the law he was charged under.
"We will know the reasons if the court gives a written judgment. Can only guess at this stage, at what the reasons might be. I was told by AGC that there was no evidence of any money being paid, there were no repeated offences, as well as a few other possible reasons. AGC also told me that a fine, under these circumstances would be within the norm," he wrote.
He also explained that the case took six years to come to light only because the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) received a complaint recently and that police were unaware of the offences at the time.
Shanmugam was quoted on The Sunday Times during a community event on Saturday as saying, “No one is above the law, and (in) prosecutions, AGC makes independent decisions, the court also makes independent decisions.”
The Attorney-General Chamber's has also since come out to clarify that Wu was charged for abetting his employee to provide false information about the offences in 2005 and 2006. It was Kuan who gave the false information. There was also no evidence of payment or reward given to Kuan.
The AGC also added that in this case, there was no major accident or injury and it was considered appropriate to proceed under the Road Traffic Act.