I wrote previously how Singapore was facing another Michael Fay moment over the case of Oliver Fricker, a Swiss national charged with vandalism and trespass after breaking into a depot and spray-painting a train.
Today Fricker pleaded guilty in a Singapore court and he has been sentenced to five months in jail and three strokes of the cane. Despite a number of not-too-dissimilar recent cases where errant Western expats were treated leniently by the courts, Fricker has not been spared the rod.
The powers that be in Singapore clearly believe it's better to send a message that such vandalism will not be tolerated than to pander to Western public and political opinion. Like many people, I believe the use of corporal punishment is barbaric and unjustifiable. Its continued use puts Singapore firmly in the camp of repressive states such as Burma, China, Iran and Malaysia.
However, it's hard to have much sympathy for Fricker's predicament, which is entirely of his own making. Anyone living in Singapore should be well aware of the hard line taken over transgressions such as this and the sort of punishments that the state normally metes out.
And while Fricker's case has attracted substantial coverage in the Western media, scores of Singaporeans and other Asians are caned in the city-state every year with few eyebrows raised except by human rights organisations such as Amnesty.