Singapore: 12 weeks’ jail for man who got upset over uncooked egg, threw hot porridge at hawker!

About as Singapore as a story can get..

  • Charles Law Chang Teck left his victim, a stallholder, with first- and second-degree burns after throwing hot porridge at her
  • Law complained when the egg in his porridge order was not cooked, leading to a squabble between the pair
  • The judge noted that Law had been diagnosed with intermittent explosive disorder, which contributed to his offence

SINGAPORE — Following a dispute over an uncooked egg in his takeaway porridge order, Charles Law Chang Teck threw the scalding hot food at the stall owner who had prepared it, leaving her with first- and second-degree burns.

The 38-year-old Singaporean was sentenced to 12 weeks’ jail on Monday (March 14) for his actions on Feb 1, 2020.

He had pleaded guilty last month to one count of voluntarily causing hurt to Madam Chew Gek Hiok, 66, by means of a heated substance. She was running a stall at Whampoa Makan Place in Balestier at the time.

The court heard that when Law told Mdm Chew that he wanted the egg cooked, she responded that he should have told her so when he ordered the porridge, which was intended for his young son.

He then stated that if she was not happy about working, she should not work. She replied that she was not working there but was instead the stall owner.

Law then untied the plastic bag with the disposable porridge container in it, removed the lid and threw the container towards Mdm Chew. It came into contact with her face, upper chest and right upper limb.

Another patron who was queueing at a neighbouring stall witnessed the confrontation.

Afraid that Law would cause further nuisance, he got out of his queue and told Law not to be unhappy and to leave if he did not like the porridge.

Law then left Mdm Chew’s stall.

When the witness saw that half of her face was red and looked scalded, he told her to call the police. He then ascertained from a nearby stall owner that Law was the son of another stall owner.

The witness stayed at the scene till paramedics arrived, and observed many people trying to help Mdm Chew

She was treated at Tan Tock Seng Hospital where she was diagnosed with second-degree burns on her cheek and upper chest, as well as first-degree burns on her forehead and right upper limb.

She was treated and placed on seven days’ medical leave, as well as light duties for another week or so. Her medical leave was later extended by two weeks.

By May last year, a doctor noted that there was no significant scarring and her skin texture was normal.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Magdalene Huang, who sought at least five months’ jail, said she had already taken into consideration a psychiatric report which stated that Law was diagnosed with an intermittent explosive disorder.

The Institute of Mental Health psychiatrist who examined him found that the mental illness had contributed to the offence, and that those who suffer from it have “virtually uncontrollable albeit brief storms of anger”.

In her sentencing remarks on Monday, District Judge Kok Shu En ruled that the diagnosis had reduced his culpability for the offence and carried mitigating weight. He had also pleaded guilty and did not have a prior criminal record.

Nevertheless, the judge further noted that under the law, offenders who voluntarily cause hurt with a heated substance cannot be sentenced to a mandatory treatment order.

This is a community sentencing option offered to offenders suffering from mental conditions that contributed to the offence.

Earlier, in mitigation, Law’s defence counsel Manickam Kasturibai told the court that Law is the sole breadwinner for his family and has two young children. Law also claimed he had apologised to the victim on the day of the incident and tried to give her first aid.

The victim has since sued Law and obtained judgment from the courts for her medical expenses amounting to S$2,200.

He could have been jailed for up to seven years, or fined, or caned, or given any combination of the three.