SINGAPORE – Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon on Friday (Sept 24) upheld a lower court decision to lift a gag order on the identity of a university student who had filmed voyeuristic videos of several women.
Colin Chua Yi Jin, 23, had pleaded guilty on July 29 to seven counts of insulting the women’s modesty and an offence under the Films Act.
It was earlier reported the clips he recorded involved 11 women, whom he knew personally, and one unknown victim. He had filmed them mostly during gatherings at his home.
On Friday, the Chief Justice said courts have the power to impose gag orders to protect victims – to prevent them from suffering further and so that victims are not afraid to come forward.
Chua’s lawyer had gone to the High Court to object to the gag order being lifted – but Chief Justice Menon described it as a hopeless application.
The Chief Justice said: “A gag order has nothing to do with the benefit of accused persons.”
He noted Chua’s victims spoke with one voice and had wanted his identity revealed for a variety of reasons.
Last January, The Straits Times had reported the prosecution had said that 10 of the 12 women had requested Chua’s identity be made known to the public.
On Friday, the Chief Justice added: “His interest counts for nothing.”
When Chua was first charged in 2019, a gag order was imposed by a district court to protect the women’s identities.
The order covered Chua’s identity and the name of his university.
However, on July 29, the prosecution applied to the court for the gag order to be lifted.
The prosecution said there was public interest in identifying the accused and he should not be allowed to hide behind the gag order.
The prosecutors had argued: “Both retribution and deterrence can only be given full weight if the accused is identified and publicly held responsible for the crimes that he has committed.”
The prosecution noted the victims were unanimous in supporting the move.
Some of them had felt guilty there could be more victims who were unaware of what had happened to them because of the gag on Chua’s name.
Chua has been found to be unsuitable for probation.
For each charge of insulting a woman’s modesty, an offender can be jailed for up to a year and fined.
No date has yet been set for sentencing.