SINGAPORE – The prosecution on Wednesday (Aug 24) appealed to the High Court, arguing that the former chief executive of food and beverage firm The Prive Group should be jailed for at least eight weeks for assaulting a 13-year-old boy.

Deputy Attorney-General Tai Wei Shyong sought to overturn a 12-month mandatory treatment order (MTO) that was handed down to Vu Han Jean-Luc Kha, 44, by a district judge in March.

Offenders given an MTO have to undergo treatment for the psychiatric condition that contributed to their offences, instead of serving jail time.

Mr Tai said the facts of the case warranted a jail term and that handing down an MTO would send the wrong message on how public interest is protected.

The prosecutor argued that Kha’s mental disorder did not justify an MTO.

He highlighted that Kha saw a psychiatrist only on Nov 17, 2020 – a year after the drunk French national verbally abused and punched the boy on Nov 22, 2019, while they were in a lift.

Dr Ken Ung gave an initial diagnosis of adjustment disorder.

Kha then sought a second opinion at the Institute of Mental Health, where Dr Pamela Ng diagnosed him with bipolar disorder on Feb 26, 2021.

Kha adopted Dr Ng’s diagnosis in seeking an MTO.

But Mr Tai argued that Dr Ng’s reports were premised on incomplete facts based on self-reported information from Kha.

The prosecutor said Kha failed to tell Dr Ng, among other things, the exact words that he had used to abuse the victim and the fact that he had punched the victim in the head.

Mr Tai argued that Dr Ng did not adequately explain how the bipolar disorder contributed to Kha’s actions.

“We believe that public confidence in the system would be eroded if, on these facts, the respondent is allowed to evade his just deserts by relying on a psychiatric decision which was diagnosed long after the incident and based on self-reported fact,” he said in written submissions.

Defence counsel Teh Ee-Von cited other cases of offenders without mental disorders who were fined or given short jail terms for causing minor hurt to children.

She questioned why Kha should be punished more severely.

Ms Teh said her client did not know he had bipolar disorder before the incident, noting that mental disorders often go undetected.

She argued that Kha has shown rehabilitative potential and that he has since stopped drinking alcohol, which can exacerbate the symptoms.