Michael P

Michael P. Fay

Michael Peter Fay (born May 30, 1975) is a US citizen who was the subject of international attention in one thousand nine hundred ninety four when he was sentenced to six strokes of the cane in Singapore for theft and vandalism at age Legitimate. Albeit caning is a routine court sentence in Singapore, its barbarity caused controversy in the USA, and Fay’s case was believed to be the very first caning involving an American citizen. [1] The number of cane strokes in Fay’s sentence was ultimately diminished from six to four after U.S. officials requested leniency.


Michael Fay was born in St. Louis, Missouri. [Two] His mother, Randy, divorced his father, George, when he was eight. [Two] As a child, he was diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder which, his lawyer later claimed, made Fay not responsible for his eventual sentencing for vandalism in Singapore. [Trio]

Albeit Fay mostly lived with his father after the divorce, he later moved to Singapore to live with his mother and stepfather, Marco Chan, and was enrolled in the Singapore American School. [Two]

In October 1993, The Straits Times, Singapore’s main English-language newspaper, reported that car vandalism in Singapore was on the rise. [Four] Cars parked at apartment blocks were being bruised with hot tar, paint remover, crimson unload paint, and hatchets. Taxi drivers complained that their tires were slashed. In the city center, cars were found with deep scrapes and dents. One man complained that he had to refinish his car six times in six months. [Four]

The police eventually arrested 16-year-old Andy Shiu Chi Ho from Hong Kong. He was not caught vandalizing cars, but was charged with driving his father’s car without a license. After questioning Shiu, the police questioned several expatriate students from the Singapore American School, including Fay, and charged them with more than fifty counts of vandalism. [Four] Fay pleaded guilty to vandalizing the cars in addition to stealing road signs. He later maintained that he was advised that such a prayer would preclude caning and that his confession was false, that he never vandalized any cars, and that the only crime he committed was stealing signs. [Five] [6]

Under the one thousand nine hundred sixty six Vandalism Act, originally passed to curb the spread of political graffiti and which specifically penalized vandalism of government property, [Two] Fay was sentenced on March Three, one thousand nine hundred ninety four to four months in jail, a fine of Trio,500 Singapore dollars (US$Two,214 or £1,514 at the time), and six strokes of the cane. [7] Shiu, who pleaded not guilty, was sentenced to eight months in prison and twelve strokes of the cane. [8]

Fay’s lawyers appealed, arguing that the Vandalism Act provided caning only for indelible forms of graffiti vandalism, and that the bruised cars had been cheaply restored to their original condition. [9]

From the United States government Edit

The official position of the United States government was that albeit it recognized Singapore’s right to penalize Fay within the due process of law, the penalty of caning was excessive for a teenager who committed a non-violent crime. The United States embassy in Singapore pointed out that the graffiti harm to the cars was not permanent, but caning would leave Fay with physical scars. [Two]

Then-U.S. President Bill Clinton called Fay’s penalty extreme and mistaken, and pressured the Singapore government to grant Fay clemency from caning. Two dozen U.S. senators signed a letter to the Singapore government also appealing for clemency. [Three] The Singapore government pointed out that Singaporeans who break the law faced the same penalties as Fay, [1] and claimed that Singapore’s laws had kept the city free of vandalism and violence of the kind seen in Fresh York City. [Ten] The Straits Times criticized “interference” by the U.S. government and found it surprising that the President had found time to become involved, given the various foreign-policy and other crises it was facing. [Five]

Nevertheless, then-President Ong Teng Cheong commuted Fay’s caning from six to four strokes as a gesture of respect toward Clinton. [11] [Three] Shiu’s sentence was later also diminished, from twelve strokes to six, after a similar clemency appeal. Fay was caned on May Five, 1994, at Queenstown Remand Centre. [12] [13]

Public reaction Edit

Following Fay’s sentence, the case received broad coverage by the U.S. and world media. [14] The Fresh York Times, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times ran editorials and op-eds condemning the penalty. [15] USA Today reported that caning involved “bits of skin fly[ing] with each stroke.” [16] This latter detail was evidently taken from descriptions (originally derived from a one thousand nine hundred seventy four press conference) [17] of a much larger number of strokes, for more severe crimes such as rape and robbery.

Some commentaries [ who? ] treated the Michael Fay affair as a clash of cultures inbetween Asian values and the differing view of human rights common in liberal Western countries. [ citation needed ]

Public opinion was mixed. [Eighteen] A significant number of Americans were in favor of the caning, claiming that Singapore had a right to use corporal penalty and that the United States did not mete out severe enough penalty to its own juvenile offenders. [Nineteen] Others pointed out that once Americans go abroad, they are subject to the laws and penal codes of the country they visit. [20] The Singapore Embassy received “a flood of letters” from Americans strongly supporting Fay’s penalty, and some polls displayed a majority of Americans favored it. [21]

After Fay’s penalty was carried out, the Office of the United States Trade Representative said it would attempt to prevent the World Trade Organization’s very first ministerial meeting from taking place in Singapore. [ citation needed ]

After his release from prison in June 1994, Fay returned to the United States to live with his biological father. [22] He gave several television interviews, including one with his American lawyer on CNN with Larry King on June 29, 1994, in which he admitted taking road signs but denied vandalizing cars. [23] He also claimed that he was ill-treated during questioning, but had shaken arms with the caning operative after his four strokes had been administered.

Several months after returning to the U.S., Fay suffered burns to his palms and face after a butane incident. [24] [25] [26] He was subsequently admitted to the Hazelden rehabilitation program for butane manhandle. [24] He claimed that sniffing butane “made him leave behind what happened in Singapore.” [27] In 1996, he was cited in Florida for a number of violations, including careless driving, reckless driving, not reporting a crash, and having an open bottle of alcohol in a car. [28] Later, in 1998, still in Florida, Fay was arrested for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, charges to which he confessed but was acquitted [29] because of technical errors in his arrest. [30]

In one thousand nine hundred ninety five the case inspired The Simpsons gig “Bart vs. Australia”, in which Australia is to penalize Bart via “booting” – a kick in the buns using a giant boot (later diminished to a shoe). [31]

“Weird Al” Yankovic released a song based on the Fay case, called “Headline News”

During an interview with CCTV in June 2004, Lee Kuan Yew said that Fay had also hit his father upon his comeback in the United States, which was suppressed by American media. [32] In June 2010, Fay’s case was recalled in international news, after another foreigner in Singapore, Swiss IT consultant Oliver Fricker, was sentenced to five months in jail and three strokes of the cane for vandalizing a train. [33]

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