Singapore jails gardener who hit colleague with hoe over ‘fat’, ‘transgender’ remarks

The court heard that Sim and the victim, cleaner Tan Im Choon, 64, were both working at Rafflesia condominium when the offence took place.

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Before the incident, both Sim and Tan had frequent disputes with each other owing to what court documents called “a shared unpleasant history”. It was not disclosed in court what this unpleasant history involved.

On the afternoon of July 28 last year, Tan had just ended his duties for the day when he met Sim outside the toilet located on the first floor of the condo.

After Tan called Sim “a fat guy” in Hokkien, a verbal dispute broke out between the two.

When asked by District Judge Christopher Goh if there was more to the dispute, Sim said Tan had also called him a “transgender” in Hokkien and taunted him for not daring to hit him.

A Singapore court jailed a gardener for 10 weeks, after he hit a colleague with a hoe for calling him ‘fat’, and ‘transgender’. Photo: AP

At the time of the dispute, Sim was holding on to a garden hoe as he was still working, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Shi Yun.

During the verbal dispute, Tan shouted aggressively at Sim and gestured for Sim to hit him.

Having lost his temper, Sim held the garden hoe high and struck Tan twice as he was walking away from him.

Tan ran away from Sim immediately after he was struck on the neck and upper back area, but Sim continued to pursue him while still holding on to the hoe.

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Sim only stopped after a condo management staff intervened and took the garden tool away from him.

Seeing Tan bleeding from his neck, the staff called for an ambulance. Police were later notified of the incident by the Singapore Civil Defence Force.

Tan was sent to Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Sim was arrested at the scene on the same day.

In seeking a jail term of at least two months and two weeks and up to three months, prosecutor Tan said that even though the garden hoe is less egregious than a knife, it is still a weapon which could potentially inflict great harm.

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She added that while the victim did not have to undergo sutures for his cuts, there were injuries as a result of the assault.

During mitigation, Sim apologised to the court and said that his actions were because he was “very angry” and unable to control himself after Tan called him transgender in Hokkien.

For voluntarily causing hurt with a garden hoe, Sim could have been jailed for up to seven years, fined, or caned, or with any combination of these punishments.

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