A schoolboy was passing through Botanic Gardens one morning last December when 59-year-old Chua Ah Guan called out to him.
Walking over, the 12-year-old boy was shocked when Chua showed him a picture of a penis on his mobile phone. Chua, who was then working as a gardener at the Botanic Gardens, was later arrested after the boy called out for help.
On Wednesday (3 May), Chua pleaded guilty to one charge of exhibiting an obscene object to a person below 21 years of age. Investigations showed that the picture, which Chua had downloaded from Facebook, was one of 157 similar images in his phone.
The offence occurred on the morning of 23 December 2016 while the boy, whose name cannot be revealed due to a gag order, was heading towards the Ministry of Education’s physical education training grounds for sports training.
As the boy was walking towards the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden, he was spotted by Chua, who called out to the boy in Mandarin saying, “Xiao di, lai kan yi xia (Boy, I have something to show you)”. Upon seeing the picture on Chua’s mobile phone, the boy shouted “pervert” in Mandarin and called for help.
A passerby heard the commotion and approached the boy. The boy, who felt disturbed by Chua’s actions, asked the passerby to call the police.
Meanwhile, Chua approached the duo and apologised repeatedly to the boy. While Chua could not be found when the police arrived at the scene, he was eventually detained with the help of other Botanic Gardens staff.
According to court documents, Chua said that he did not know why he had shown the image to the victim. Chua’s defence counsel said that Chua’s actions were “wholly out of character” and were not premeditated, while also noting that Chua apologised profusely for his actions.
The prosecution, represented by Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Yvonne Poon, raised the recent sentencing of mixed martial arts instructor Joshua Robinson as a precedent. Among other charges, Robinson had been given six months’ jail in March for showing an obscene film to a six-year-old girl.
DPP Poon noted that unlike Robinson’s case, Chua’s victim was older and a still image had been shown as opposed to a video.
Chua’s case has been adjourned to 19 May for sentencing. For his offence, he may be jailed for up to a year, fined, or both.