PROTECTION FROM HARASSMENT ACT (POHA) 

What it covers

Harassment, alarm or distress suffered, fear or provocation of violence, unlawful stalking and false statements of fact.

 

Examples taken from Sec 3 Protection From Harassment Act:

X and Y are classmates. X posts a vulgar tirade against Y on a website accessible to all of their classmates. One of Y’s classmates shows the message on the website to Y, and Y is distressed. X is guilty of an offence under this section.

Intentional acts: X and Y are co‑workers. At the workplace, X loudly and graphically describes to the other co‑workers X’s desire for a sexual relationship with Y in an insulting manner. X knows that Y is within earshot and intends to cause Y distress. Y is distressed. X is guilty of an offence under this section.

 

Fear or provocation of violence

Different from harassment, alarm or distress – this is where the victim is a recipient of a threat of physical violence.

 

Unlawful stalking

Conduct generally associated with stalking a victim or related person:-

–       Following him/her;

–       Making any communication with him / her by any means;

–       Entering or loitering in any place (whether public or private) outside or near his/her place of residence or place of business or any other place frequented by him/her ;

–       Interfering with property in his/ her possession;

–       Giving or sending material to him/ her, or leaving it where it will be found by, given to or brought to his/ her attention;

–       Keeping him / her under surveillance.

 

Case Studies 

  1. The High Court recently in Benber Dayao Yu v Jacter Singh [2017] SGHC 92 found that a respondent had in its website made a false statement of fact against the applicant. Among other things, the Court found that the respondent had falsely accused the applicant of:-

–       Misrepresenting to others that he was a national athletics team coach and/or a national athlete.

–       Having a molest case against him in his home country and that he had molested the athletes he coached.

        The High Court ordered that the respondent:-

–       Removes all publications relating to the applicant that had been set out in the respondent’s webpage

–       Desists from publishing further insulting or abusive communications about the applicant in the respondent’s webpage

–       Further, no other person shall publish or continue to publish the the allegations set out in the respondent’s webpage

 

  1. On 5 February 2015, a local blogger Xiaxue obtained a court order against the SMRT Ltd (Feedback) Facebook page after being harassed online. This court order was obtained pursuant to the Protection From Harassment Act.

 

  1. In the case of PP v Lai Zhi Heng, the accused was convicted of stalking after he followed the victim on many occasions, sent numerous text messages to her and even put up fliers with her nude photographs in public areas near her home. Such acts caused the victim to suffer “anguish and torment” for nearly 2 years.

 

  1. In the case of Tan Yao Min v PP, the High Court, in hearing a Magistrate’s Appeal, affirmed a decision of the District Court to incarcerate a stalker who was obsessed with two sisters, aged 14 and 18.

 

Consequences for Contravening POHA

Criminal: Fine of up to $5,000 and/or jail term of up to 12 months.

Repeat offence: Fine of up to $10,000 and/or jail term of up to 2 years.

Civil: Damages ie compensation.

 

Our Experience 

Some cases we have done include:-

–       Obtaining an expedited protection order against a respondent who had persistently harassed the applicant and repeatedly threatened to use violence against an applicant’s family.

 

–       Obtaining a letter of undertaking from a respondent to cease harassing, causing alarm and/or distress to and unlawfully stalking the applicant. The respondent had among other things, stalked the applicant, sent repeated threatening WhatsApp text messages, harassed the applicant at her residence.

 

–      Our client was a Respondent in a POHA case. We managed to settled the matter in a confidential, swift, peaceful and amicable manner.  The client was please with our service and gave the following review on our company’s Facebook:

If I’m going to rate your performance from 1 to 10. 10 is the highest score and one is the lowest I’m going to rate as 9. Your performance was great, directed to the point. Made easy and understandable negotiation to the client. Plus the factor of your sense of humour is another asset with you. So no regrets that I choose as my lawyer.

 

Inquiries

If you require assistance on any POHA related matters or have any enquiries, please feel free to contact our POHA lawyer in Singapore, Ray Louis at +65-90908288.

 

Other Sources of Information

  1. State Court, Singapore.
  2. Wikipedia.
  3. Ministry of Law, Singapore.
  4. The Straits Times, Singapore – Jan, 2015, Feb 2016.