Singaporeans debate whether boy who flung cat off 22nd floor deserves punishment or leniency

Online communities in Singapore are still fiercely debating the recent disturbing incident involving a boy who got caught on video flinging a cat off the 22nd story of a housing block last week.

Much of the discussion is over how the police and animal authorities, which animal welfare groups argue are too lenient abusers, will handle his case and what kind of punishment the unidentified boy should receive.

What we know

The shocking surveillance footage was first posted online on Thursday by Facebook user Feline, who posts regularly about cats. It shows the young boy mercilessly throwing a black cat named Panther, a beloved community pet, from the 22nd story of Block 186 Boon Lay Avenue.

Police confirmed that a report was made over the incident and an investigation by the Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS) is ongoing. Feline said that the boy is in police custody after being caught trying to throw another cat but a Straits Times report denied this.

According to Lianhe Zaobao, the boy only confessed to throwing the cat only when he was shown the surveillance footage by a cat caretaker living in the block. The caretaker claimed that the boy told her he did it because he “did not receive love and care from his family.”

The caretaker also said that there have been at least five cats who died in the area from falling, whether accidentally or thrown down.

Singapore boy caught on video flinging cat from 22nd floor of building, authorities brought in: SPCA

The boy is allegedly in police custody after being caught trying to do the same to another cat. Read more.

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The response

On the same day the footage was uploaded online, a petition titled Justice for Panther was created, which has garnered over 50,000 signatures in four days. It calls on the AVS and the police to hold the boy accountable under the Animal and Birds Act 1965, even though he is a child.

“We understand that the perpetrator is a juvenile and the Animal and Birds Act 1965 may not apply but we urge the relevant Authorities to enforce this law and hope that this act of cruelty will be punished with an equivalent standard,” the description read.

Under Section 42 of the act, any person found guilty of committing animal cruelty will face up to S$15,000 fine or 18 months in jail.

On the petition’s page, the top reason for signing, with over 400 likes, belongs to a Natasha Ibrahim who wrote that animal cruelty laws should be enforced on the boy as he is “very much aware of his actions.”

“No I don’t care if he is a child. He is obviously old enough to know better. There are consequences to your actions and he needs to know this,” she wrote.

Another user called the boy a “murderer” who will later have no conscience when it comes to hurting humans.

“Animal abuse is still abuse. Being a child doesn’t excuse the crime,” Hazel Ip wrote.

Shortly after the incident, a memorial for Panther was placed above a cardboard box house at the housing block including this notice: “The perpetrator was a cruel and heartless 10 year old boy, old enough to know better, We appeal to everyone to have compassion for our community animals. Even if you don’t like them, please do not hurt them.”

Two prominent animal welfare groups, the SPCA and the Cat Welfare Society, have also spoken up about the tragedy to assure the public that they stand strongly against such cruelty. Even the neighborhood’s political rep, Desmond Lee gave a shoutout to ask the public to continue reporting on animal abuses.

The Cat Welfare Society reiterated AVS’ request to not circulate the video to avoid encouraging backlash toward the boy and his family. 

But several commenters disagree, saying that there should be no leniency given to the child.

“Regardless of age, the boy has to be brought to justice. […] Video should be circulated otherwise investigations will just be swept under the rug and boy gets to walk away with a slap on the wrist,” Sheenaz Fazreen wrote.

A discussion thread posted on Friday to the AskSingapore subreddit asked if the boy should get punished. The vast majority emphatically said yes, with some confused Redditors asking why that was even a question. Many suggested that the boy could be a psychopath, since animal abuse is known to be one of the first signs of one.

A few commenters (who mostly got downvoted into oblivion) argued the boy could have a mental condition and suggested that whatever consequences he faces should be focused on rehabilitation and education rather than punishment.

Another dissenting opinion came from the thread’s OP, who wrote: “… I do agree that every action has [its] consequences and he should somehow face the consequences of his action. However, without the full facts on the [boy’s] mental condition or living environment that led to what happened, I felt that indicting a judgement on him wasn’t a right thing to do yet. As you can see, this thread is gradually turning into a witch-hunt.”

While most online agreed the boy deserves to be punished, some blamed the parents as well and argued they should also be held accountable.

“His parents should answer for how this kid is so disturbed at such a young age,” Sarah Varghese wrote on the petition’s page.

“​​How they turn out to be in their lives is heavily contributed and influenced by their surroundings, ESPECIALLY their parents and family. I don’t think the boy knew what he did was grave and wrong,” user Nina Lestari wrote on Facebook.

Other stories you should check out:

Singapore boy caught on video flinging cat from 22nd floor of building, authorities brought in: SPCA

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