SINGAPORE, Aug 24 — A 26-year-old regularly planted hidden cameras at a Starbucks cafe in Holland Village, which is popular with young adults, so that he could get video footages of women using the toilet.
Digital marketing specialist Clarence Tang Jia Ming also secretly filmed a number of his female friends showering in the bathroom of his home at Loyang Rise in Pasir Ris, and set up a camera at one of his friends’ house as well.
Pleading guilty to 31 charges yesterday, Tang is the last of five members of the online forum site Sammyboy to be prosecuted, after the Ministry of Education lodged a police report on November 11, 2016 upon finding obscene videos of girls in school uniforms circulating on the predominantly sex-themed site and other websites.
Charges proceeded against Tang, who is known by the user name “zidy” on Sammyboy, included one count of possession of more than 2,000 obscene films for the purposes of distribution and 30 counts of insulting the modesty of a woman.
Forty-five other similar charges will be taken into consideration during Tang’s sentencing, which is likely to take place next year.
This is because a Newton hearing has been scheduled for his case since there were conflicting accounts on whether he is suffering from a psychiatric disorder.
Such a hearing is for experts from both the prosecution and defence to give evidence and be cross-examined in court, to resolve disputed points before a sentence is decided.
Tang’s psychiatrist diagnosed that he is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and had a change in personality. This finding is challenged by the Institute of Mental Health’s psychiatrist Kenneth Koh, the prosecution’s witness.
Tang is to return to court for a pre-trial conference on September 4.
The Newton hearing is set for January 18 next year.
Yesterday, the court heard that Tang had been a Sammyboy member for five years since 2009 before he started becoming interested in making “films” using hidden cameras.
He worked with another forum user, Kenneth Ong Yi Jie.
Earlier in February, Ong, 27, a customer service officer, was jailed three years for insulting the modesty of at least 250 women and girls, and for possessing 57 obscene films with the intent to distribute them online.
Ong went by the name of “Peterwong SG” and frequently posted many obscene videos shot in Singapore, so much so that Tang asked if he could teach him how to fix up hidden cameras.
Some time in 2014, Tang met Ong at the Starbucks outlet in Holland Village to learn how to embed a hidden camera — which was in the shape of a metal wall hook — in the cafe’s unisex toilet.
Ong showed that the hook camera could be pasted onto the wall with double-sided tape, and told Tang that there was a particular wall tile on which the camera should be pasted, in order to get the best angles.
After installing the camera, the duo waited for about 90 minutes before Ong retrieved the camera and downloaded the footages onto his laptop.
Ong then gave a hook camera to Tang, who used the device to record more than 70 clips of different unsuspecting women showering or relieving themselves between 2014 and 2015 — at the same Starbucks cafe, his home, or at a female toilet in Ngee Ann Polytechnic used mostly by students who study nursing.
Tang was caught on Nov 29 in 2016, when the police raided his home.
The first two times Tang planted the cameras on his own, he would send the footages to Ong over Skype. Ong would edit the videos and label them before preparing them for online circulation.
Later, Tang would edit and label his own videos before sharing them with Ong. During editing, Tang would delete the obscene videos of men or women who looked older than 25 years old.
Filming his friends and their families
Tang did not spare his female friends. On one occasion in 2014, he knew that a 22-year-old friend would be visiting, so he placed a hidden camera inside his bathroom, which captured the shower area. The friend ended up showering at his place, unknowingly compromising herself in the process.
On another day, another female friend was also filmed under similar circumstances.
As for the camera he planted at his friend’s house, which he visited often over weekends, he installed it sometime in 2015. The camera captured his friend’s family members showering.
Deputy public prosecutor Li Yihong described Tang as being “skilled in camera placement” and who took “numerous” videos of unsuspecting victims in school uniform or attire.
The victims were identifiable because, as she noted, the recordings were in colour and of “very high quality and resolution”, and viewers could hear what the women or girls were doing or saying. The recording angles clearly captured their faces when they were seated, as well as their private parts when they stood up to clean themselves.
Li also noted that the cameras could be controlled remotely to switch between video-recording, photo-taking and motion-sensing modes.
For his 30 charges of insulting the modesty of a woman, Tang could be jailed up to one year per charge and fined.
The charge of possessing obscene films for the purpose of distribution carries a maximum penalty of two years’ jail and a S$80,000 fine.
Three other men — sales engineer Joel Chew Weichen, 27; unemployed man Ali V P Mohamed, 46; and fund accountant Shaun Lee, 28 — received jail terms of between six months and two years for their offences. — TODAY