‘I wanted to beautify her’: Man remanded for psychiatric assessment after being charged with defiling statue of Mary at Singapore church

Race Koh Jun Xian, 37, purportedly climbed over a fence, entered the compound of the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (pictured), and pasted two yellow marbles on the statue’s eyes using Blu-Tack. — TODAY pic
Race Koh Jun Xian, 37, purportedly climbed over a fence, entered the compound of the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (pictured), and pasted two yellow marbles on the statue’s eyes using Blu-Tack. — TODAY pic

SINGAPORE, Nov 20 — A 37-year-old Singaporean man was charged today with defacing a statue of Mary at a Catholic church in Hougang last week.

Race Koh Jun Xian faces one count each of criminal trespass and defiling a place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class.

He allegedly struck at the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary along Upper Serangoon Road on Nov 12. It was not open to the public at the time as renovations for the 119-year-old church were underway.

Court documents stated that at about 12.30am, he purportedly climbed over the church fence, entered the church compound and pasted two yellow marbles on the statue’s eyes using Blu-Tack.

Appearing in court through a video-link dressed in a white polo T-shirt, he told the court: “I did not do this intentionally, I was sincere in wanting to pray to Mother Mary. I wanted to beautify her, I did not know this was an offence.”

The church said last week that it found the defaced statue later that morning.

A photo of the statue, with marbles stuck on its eyes and a stroke of white paint on its forehead, was circulated on social media.

Through ground investigations and with the help of images from security cameras, officers from Ang Mo Kio Police Division established Koh’s identity and arrested him on Wednesday, the police said in a statement this morning.

On a police prosecutor’s request, District Judge Brenda Tan ordered for Koh to be remanded in the Institute of Mental Health for a psychiatric assessment.

He will return to court on Dec 4.

If convicted of criminal trespass, he could be jailed up to three months or fined up to S$1,500, or both.

If convicted of defiling a place of worship, he could be jailed up to five years or fined, or both. — TODAY

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