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Food delivery man who deliberately placed pork on shelf at mosque entrance sentenced to 12 weeks in prison

SINGAPORE: A food delivery man stole two cans of pork from a supermarket and placed them on a shelf at the entrance to a mosque.

Ian Poh, 30, did so deliberately, knowing that Muslims are prohibited from eating pork and that his actions would anger the Masjid Al-Ansar community.

Poh was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison on Thursday (April 4) after pleading guilty to one count each of theft and doing an act which he knew was detrimental to the maintenance of harmony between different religious or racial groups.

On May 15 last year, Poh walked out of a Sheng Siong supermarket on Upper Changi Road without paying for two cans of pork worth S$9.50 (US$7.05).

He then cycled to Masjid Al-Ansar in Bedok North around 10 p.m. and placed the two boxes of pork on a shelf outside intended for food delivery items.

“The accused did so knowing that the consumption of pork was prohibited in Islam. He further knew that his actions would provoke anger within the Muslim community of Masjid Al-Ansar,” court documents state.

The next day, around 4:30 a.m., the first worshipers to arrive at the mosque for morning prayers discovered the two cans of pork on the shelf.

“They were shocked and offended and immediately took a photo of the two cans of pork before throwing them in the nearby trash can,” according to court documents.

Worshipers raised the matter with mosque staff and news of the pork spread among other worshipers, who told staff they were offended and insulted.

They added that it was an insensitive act in a Muslim place of worship.

Police were informed of the incident later that day. After investigation, police identified Poh on May 17 and arrested him.

Poh told the investigator that he believed his actions would anger the Muslim community and thus prompt police to investigate what he called “the voices he was hearing in his head.”

Poh was remanded to the Institute of Mental Health from May 19 to June 1, 2023 for psychiatric observation and evaluation.

His psychiatric report indicated that Poh had previously had psychiatric episodes in June 2021 and again in April 2022. On both occasions, Poh heard voices telling him, among other things, to kill himself.

He also had a history of substance abuse: he had sniffed glue, consumed cough syrup, and used methamphetamine.

Poh was diagnosed with a substance-induced psychotic disorder and the report found his psychotic symptoms contributed to his offending. However, he was found to be of sound mind and fit to plead guilty.

The court had ordered that Poh be assessed to determine whether he was suitable for a compulsory treatment order (MTO) before his sentencing. An MTO orders an offender with certain treatable psychiatric disorders to undergo psychiatric treatment.

Referring to Thursday’s MTO report, deputy prosecutor Cheah Wenjie said Poh was found unfit for two reasons: Poh was unwilling to take follow-up action for his drug addiction and he lacked a supervisor who could help him. ‘help.

Mr Cheah also stressed that Poh’s psychotic episodes were caused by the substances he voluntarily took and that Poh knew that drug use would cause him to hear voices.

Poh’s voluntary consumption of substances, even knowing the effects could be dangerous and disastrous, was an aggravating factor, Mr Cheah said.

Regarding the offences, Mr Cheah said Poh had desecrated a place of worship and had shown “threat to use pork to insult Muslims”.

He cited Poh’s reports, which revealed that Poh had once threatened to put pork in his Muslim ex-girlfriend’s apartment, and mentioned throughout their year-long relationship that he would do the same to the mosque, which he then did.

District Judge Kenneth Chin described the circumstances of Poh’s offense as “highly aggravated” because they involved deliberate offensive conduct towards a place of worship.

Religious and racial harmony are essential to the social fabric of Singapore, and efforts and progress made to maintain harmony should not be taken for granted, the judge said.

“Offences that jeopardize the foundations of such harmony must be resolved firmly,” he added, stressing that Poh’s actions had disrupted the faithful.

Addressing Poh, the judge then said: “I hope you have learned lessons from this episode and please stay out of trouble after your release.”

For committing an act detrimental to the maintenance of harmony between different religious or racial groups, Poh could have been sentenced to a prison term of up to three years, or a fine, or both.

For theft, he could have been sentenced to seven years in prison and a fine.

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