Thursday, June 29, 2006

Cat Abuser nabbed again | think of the kittens

This seems to have escaped the notice of most bloggers and forums, but the cat torturer has struck again.

Cat abuser nabbed again for hitting kitten
by Tanya Fong

THE Bedok North cat abuser has struck again. Police arrested David Hooi Yin Weng, 43, at 2am yesterday after his neighbour found a limp, bleeding kitten outside his flat. He had already been jailed earlier this year for cat abuse.

The stray cat was unable to walk and had broken teeth.


Ms Deirdre Moss, executive officer for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), attended to the case at 4am yesterday with a vet. Said Ms Moss: 'The kitten's eyes were both swollen. It had a blood clot in its mouth and was semi-comatose. The vet said it suffered suspected brain damage likely caused by trauma to its head.'


The kitten had to be put down. Its body has been sent for post-mortem at the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority.

In March, Hooi was jailed for three months after he pleaded guilty to torturing a female kitten at his rented flat in Block 544,Bedok North Street 3, in November last year. On that occasion, police, alerted by Hooi's neighbours, found thekitten with its left eye protruding and blood stains on the nostrils. The kitten had to be put to sleep because of the severity of its injuries.

The penalty for animal abuse is a fine of up to $10,000 or a jail term of up to 12 months, or both, under the Animals and Birds Act. Pleading for leniency in court, Hooi said he had made a 'mistake'and would not do it again.

The Community Court, set up earlier this month to deal with 'special' offenders like animal abusers, can order mandatory counselling.

Said consultant psychiatrist Ko Soo Meng: 'A custodial sentence alone may not help, even if it deters potential abusers. Those who abuse animals lack empathy and may have anger management problems. Some may have psychopathic traits.'These are issues which need to be worked through to deter the animal abuser from future deviant behaviour.

- Straits Times, 29 June, 2006

My first reaction is fume angrily about the state of society that would allow this torturer to go practically scot-free. I'd also be tempted to take a pot shot at a newspaper who hires Xiaxue for their Star Blogger, the same Wendy Cheng who thinks that it's ridiculous that we jail people who crack kitten skulls.

But as always, there's the bigger picture that's interesting. Lately, there's been some talk about the need for an alternative to jail for certain offences, where the offender would be better off with counselling rather than incarceration. There's the case of Iskandar Muhammad Nordin, the mentally disabled repeat molester who molested a woman within a day of release, the implications of which former DPP and karma-biscuit baker Mr Wang has discussed here.

When I was young, I used to believe that punishment was the right way to do things. That there should be an eye for an eye, and preferably a limb as well. Teenagers are frighteningly self-righteous that way, which is why I'm glad that blogging didn't exist when I was a teen, otherwise there would be little internet trails of some truly ridiculous things I believed in, that some enterprising young thing would bring up and throw in my face if I ran for election.

I'm (significantly) older now, and I still want bad things to happen to bad people. I am an ENTJ, and one of the traits of ENTJs is that at a certain visceral level, they can't quite understand why people just don't obey the law. But these tests aren't meant to say that your character is set in stone, they're (in part) meant to help you work on your shortcomings. And another trait of ENTJs is that they'll always deal with the world as it is.

The thing about throwing David Hooi in jail is that we're killing more kittens that way.

If I understand correctly, the principle behind jailtime is that it deters the offender from committing the crime, and it deters other would-be offenders from committing the crime. It also announces that the crime goes against societal principles. But the problem with Hooi and Iskandar's case is that it signally failed in the first goal, and probably had very little effect with regards to the second.

It failed to deter the offender from committing the crime again because it failed to address the reason why the crime had been committed - mainly, Hooi and Iskandar had psychological problems.

It fails in the second because it's not going to deter people with similar psychological problems from committing the same crime. People with low IQ problems (Hooi's is at 57) don't think about these things before they commit the crime.

It succeeded in the third goal, namely, to announce that Singapore Society Just Won't Condone this. Then again, it's hard to imagine that any first world country has a pressing need to prove that it hates people who touch unwilling boobies or pop kitten eyes, so I'm not all that sure completing this goal is anything to whoop about. We should make a statement against such practices of course, but I'm not sure that incarceration was the way to do it.

That's why I want to see what happens next with this case, especially with all the talk recently about community courts blahblah. The thing about Hooi's case is that they can afford to be more experimental about it than they can be with Iskandar's - Hooi's victim was a kitten, and as many animal lovers in Singapore have wont to find out, Singaporeans don't generally care about what happens to animals. (At least half of Singapore does care about their boobies going unmolested, though.)

I am an animal lover, mind you. I am particularly fond of cats, and I used to bottlefeed 4 day old kittens, toilet train them, wake up in the middle of the night twice to feed them. I used to choke on the tears that I couldn't cry when they died, because I'm an ENTJ and we don't do soft. Part of me wants Hooi castrated. But punishing him with more jail time is the easy way, and it only satisfies my - our - need for vengeance.

And while we continue to not deal with the actual problem, another kitten's going to die.

(Incidentally, Ovidia Yu's got a play coming up called the Silence of the Kittens. There's an interesting dialogue session that will occur:

Sun, 6 August 5.30pm
LIFE: Strays and Critters: The Culling Fields
ART: The Silence of the Kittens

Furry friends or pernicious pests? We had our own era of The Culling Fields in 2003, where senseless phobia overtook logical procedure and a mass cull was ordered. Is there space for vermin in Singapore? Howare undesirables dealt with? How "open and inclusive" are we as a society?
Moderator: Paul Rae (Artistic Director, Spell #7, Academic)Points of View: Ovidia Yu (Playwright), Dawn Kua (Cat Welfare Society); Lucy Davis (Artist, Activist, Critic), Alex Au (Social Commentator, Activist)


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