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    Mar 14, 2014

    Horror tales and thumbs up for Bill

    ONE woman's former boyfriend uploaded compromising photos of her to a porn site.

    A man received a "congratulations" card from a disgruntled former employee on the death anniversary of his child.

    And a teenager committed suicide after she became the subject of online flaming.

    These were some incidents of harassment raised in Parliament yesterday, as 15 members unanimously rose in support of the Protection from Harassment Bill. It was passed after a three-hour debate.

    The Bill will better protect people from harassment and related anti-social behaviour, including stalking and sexual harassment at the workplace.

    Chua Chu Kang GRC MP Zaqy Mohamad gave details of one case of harassment he came across during his meet-the-people sessions.

    The resident was stalked by her former boyfriend at home and at work. As she was on her way home one day, she was nearly hit by a falling object. Shortly after, she received a text message from him. He somehow knew she had a close shave.

    "In that message, it said (that) next time, she may not be so lucky," he said.

    Law Minister K. Shanmugam shared details of e-mail he has received since he introduced the Bill.

    One woman had rejected the advances of her colleague, who then began spreading rumours about her at the workplace. She was called a lesbian and a loose woman, but did not leave her job as she needed to support her family, Mr Shanmugam said.

    Several members cited a 2012 Microsoft study which examined bullying among youth aged eight to 17 years old in 25 countries, and found that Singapore had the second-highest rate of cyber-bullying among youth.

    While supporting the Bill, members also raised concerns over the authorities' ability to identify online perpetrators.

    "The cloak of anonymity that cyber-bullies hide behind may prevent the Bill from being effectively enforced," said Mr Hri Kumar Nair, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Home Affairs and Law.

    Marine Parade GRC MP Tin Pei Ling also pointed out that some websites charge fees for removing offending content, and questioned Singapore's ability to get the hosting websites, especially those overseas, to take the content down.

    Given the potentially viral nature of harassing content, she asked whether the expedited protection order could be granted faster than the expected one or two days.

    In his clarifications, Mr Shanmugam said that if the court deems the case to be urgent, the expedited order can be given on the same day that the application is made.

    He also said that police and the courts may be able to identify anonymous perpetrators.

    Police officers will be trained in the application of the legislation and will not turn away victims solely because their harassers have not been identified, he said.

    "The Bill will not be a panacea for all the ills that people face. It's not going to change behaviour overnight. (But) I think it will set in place some serious standards, some pretty stiff penalties, it will make people be more aware," he said.