|Sex convict Howard Shaw goes behind bars in Singapore
A prominent Singaporean businessman who had been seen on society magazine covers began a three-month prison sentence after being convicted of having paid sex with a minor, local media reported.
Howard Shaw Chai Li, 41, married to Jessie Xue and a grandson of Asian movie mogul Runme Shaw, told reporters he felt “nervous’’ as he reported to a district court to begin his 12-week jail term, the Straits Times daily said, AFP reports.
Shaw will be eligible for release after eight weeks if he qualifies for a one-third remission for good behavior.
Shaw was convicted in July of having paid sex with the prostitute in October 2010, when she was a few months short of her 18th birthday. Under a 2008 law, it is a crime to pay for sex with a woman under 18.
In February, he appeared on the cover of Singapore Tatler in a feature on Great Romances.
Besides Shaw, 50 other men including businessmen, civil servants and uniformed officers have been charged with having paid sex with the same girl, whose identity has been withheld on court orders.
The scandal has shone a spotlight on Singapore's pragmatic approach to prostitution, which involves regulating the sex trade to protect minors and curbing criminal involvement in the industry.
Singapore has long been perceived as a conservative, even prudish, society but it has a thriving sex industry dating back to its beginnings as a key trading port of the British empire.
The judge did not accept Shaw's argument that he had made an “honest and reasonable mistake'' in ascertaining the girl's age, calling him “reckless'' before handing down sentence.
Among the 51 men charged are five foreigners including Juerg Buergin, a 40-year-old Swiss expatriate who had worked for banking giant UBS.
The Straits Times said 11 of the men, including Shaw, have been sentenced to between nine and 13 weeks' imprisonment. The maximum sentence for the offence is seven years in jail and a fine.