I refer to the article “Gynae admits to two counts of underage sex with 14-year-old” by Elena Chong, (10 Sep 2013).
The despicable offences committed by Ong Theng Kiat are not just manifestations of his unlawful sexual desires but also reveal a culture of exploitation in our society.
Ong’s actions reflect a lack of responsibility and remorse; not only did he have full knowledge that his victim was 14 at the time he statutorily raped her, but he also gave her two morning after pills and even forced her to eat one in his car to ensure he would not have to bear the consequences in the event she became pregnant.
Moreover, his predatory actions are especially repugnant in light of the fact he is a doctor, a member of a noble profession who make an oath to ‘first do no harm’ and in whom the public places much trust and respect.
Aside from the perpetrator, there is also the question of the girl’s parents: where were they when all of this was happening? If the parents of the girl had only known about what was going on in their daughter’s life, and they could have intervened to cut off all contact between the two and this tragic case of exploitation could have been avoided.
While the specific circumstances of each case and the hardships faced by each family may be different, it is regrettable that many Singaporean parents are often so caught up with their career and busy lives that they fail to pay attention to the needs and habits of their children.
Parents everywhere should make the effort to spend quality time with their sons and daughters, construct open channels of communication, and build strong, lasting relationships.
It is patently obvious that we as a society have failed to adequately protect our children from predators such as Ong.
One way we can rectify this mistake is to ensure we develop appropriate prevention strategies to target children and youth on proper types of relationships, the serious consequences of engaging in casual sex, as well as the dangers posed by Internet predators who hide behind anonymity to avoid detection and who create a fictitious personality to emotionally exploit them.
Another way we can protect our children from predators is by instituting stronger policies and safeguards on dating websites like C-Date. The existing defenses are clearly insufficient as they allowed a 63-year-old predator to meet, groom and take advantage of an impressionable 14-year-old student.
Additionally, we could introduce harsher penalties for such online wolves in sheep’s clothing.
This would hopefully staunch the flow of this underlying current of exploitation, and shield our most vulnerable from the most devious.