This article was published in The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884-1942) on 16 January 1941 on Page 9. It was a report on the first case tried under Section 377A of the Singapore Penal Code.
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STAFF OFFICER ON TRIAL IN POLICE COURT
Offence Concerning Malay Youth Alleged
THE trial of Capt. D. Marr, who was stated to be Deputy Assistant Provost Marshal of the Singapore Fortress Command, on a charge of having committed an act of gross indecency with a Malay youth, began in the second district court yesterday before Mr. Conrad Oldham.
Mr. D. K. Walters and Mr. D. Marshall appeared for Capt. Marr, and Mr. R. H. Green represented the Crown. Opening the prosecution case, Mr. Green said it was alleged by the prosecution that the offence took place on Mar. 13 or 14, but in order to give an idea of how it came to light, he would have to start with Mar. 16.
On that day, he said, a detective detained a Malay youth named Sudin bin Daud who was known to the police as a catamite, and found a pawn ticket in his possession.
The ticket was taken to the pawn-shop, where it was found to relate to a wristlet watch with a black strap, the property of Major Castor, the Assistant Provost Marshal, and which, it transpired, he had lent to Capt. Marr.
Marr was questioned and his room searched, and in an almeirah in his room a brown shirt made of Turkish towelling, was found under some clean clothes. “This shirt," said Mr. Green, “was not large enough to be one of Marr’s shirts."
In Stamford Road
“It is alleged by the prosecution,” he continued, “that on the night of Mar. 12 or 13, Marr was driving a car and stopped in Stamford Road where he invited the youth, Sudin bin Daud to enter.
“Sudin did so in the presence of a person named Tan Ah Leng and also of a person named Rashid, and Marr then drove in the direction of Tanglin, to a house at Tanglin Hill.
“It is alleged," said Mr. Green, “that he then took Sudin to his room on the ground floor, where an offence under Section 377 (a) of the Penal Code is alleged to have been committed.
“When Marr’s back was turned," Mr. Green went on, “Sudin stole a wrist-watch which was lying on a round glass-topped table in the room, and left the house with it, leaving, the prosecution alleges, his shirt behind.”
“It may seem extraordinary," he said, "but the prosecution alleges that Sudin was wearing two shirts that night, one a white shirt, and the other a brown shirt which he wore over the white shirt as a kind of sweater.
“Being anxious to escape with the watch, he left his brown shirt in the room,” Mr. Green concluded.
Marr was identified at an identification parade by Sudin and by Tan Ah Leng, he added.
Major Gives Evidence
Major Brian Kenneth Castor, Assistant Provost Marshal, Malaya Command, living in a house at Tanglin Hill, said that towards the end of last year he bought a wrist-watch from Gammeter's.
Shown a watch by Mr. Green, he said it was exactly like the one he had bought, though he could not say it was the same watch as there was no mark by which he could identify it as being positively his.
“I loaned the watch to Capt. Marr some time in February," said Major Castor, “and I last saw it lying on a small, square table in the middle of his room about the middle of March.”
Questioned by Mr. Green, Major Castor said that Marr was the Deputy Assistant Provost Marshal of the Singapore Fortress Commmand, while he was Assistant Provost Marshal of the Malaya Command. Marr came under him for administrative purposes, he said.
Several motor-cars were attached to the Command, he continued, but one car was issued to him personally.
“Marr used this car on one occasion within the first fortnight of March," said Major Castor, “and that was the only time, to my knowledge, that he used the car himself.
“He used it on that occasion after dinner in the evening to go out on duty in Singapore. He was in uniform, dressed in khaki trousers, khaki slacks, and his headress might have been either a tam-o’-shanter or a Glengarry.
Cross-examined by Mr. Walters, Major Castor admitted that it was at his own suggestion that Marr made use of the car that night.
Mr. Walters: How long have you known Marr?—For two months, since he was appointed Deputy Assistant Provost Marshal.
Does that mean he is the senior officer in charge of military police in Singapore?
—He is the staff officer concerned with police duties in Singapore.
There is no one above him in executive duties, is there?—No, except the General.
Administratively, he comes under you?—Yes.
The job of Deputy Assistant Provost Marshal is quite a responsible position, isn’t it?—It is.
Calling for men of good character and reputation?—Yes.
Did Marr live for several weeks in the same boarding house at Tanglin Hill as you did?-Yes.
You were friendly with him?—Yes.
Until his arrest, you were perfectly satisfied with his demeanour and conversation, weren’t you?—Yes.
Marr arrived In Singapore on Oct. 2, didn't he?—About that time.
He assumed the Assistant Deputy Provost Marshalship on Jan. 21?—Yes.
In some respects he was a man of rather casual disposition, wasn’t he? I mean he was entitled to an extra $100 as he lived outside barracks, but he never took it?—He never claimed the money and it was never queried.
Yes, that is what I mean. It does seem to indicate a rather casual disposition?—I suppose so, yes.
How much did you pay for the wristwatch?—Eight dollars.
A “Cheap Watch”
I hope you don’t mind my putting this question, but it was rather a cheap watch, wasn’t it?—Of course it was.
Did you ever see Marr use it?—No. The only time I saw it was on the table in his room.
In the boarding house—I don’t want you I to misunderstand me—there are other army officers living besides you and Marr?—Yes two others.
Again, without making the slightest suggestion, were any of these officers put on the identification parade?—Not to my knowledge.
Is it correct that the other persons in the parade were all officers from Marr’s regiment?—Yes, as far as I know.
Can you give me some idea of Marr’s duties In the evening? He was accustomed to visit his military police patrols, wasn’t he?—Yes, at his own competence. There were a certain number of patrols on duty each night.
Would it come within the scope of his discretion to take notice of a place like Lavender Street?—Yes. There are patrols there.
You know the Singapore phrase—"Anti-Vice?"—Yes.
And what it means?—Yes.
Would it not be the kind of thing a Deputy Assistant Provost Marshal would take an interest in?—Yes. So far as it affected the troops.
"Distinctly A Problem”
This subject is discussed in military circles and treated as a problem?—Distinctly so.
And a problem desirable to clean up?—Yes.
Can you recollect any conversation you had with Marr on this subject?—Yes. When he took over this job he did not know Singapore, so I took him over the place, and showed him the beats of his military police patrol and places—I don't know if I should call them “brothels"—in Singapore.
Mr. Walters: It's a word Singaporeans don't like, but we know what you mean. You know that the padang and Stamford Road area is an area for male prostitutes?—Yes.
You know of the order that all soldiers are not to ride In rickshas with male Asiatics?—This is an old order, promulgated long ago. They are not allowed to ride in rickshas with male Asiatics not in uniform.
Has it not been re-promulgated since Marr took over?—I don’t know. I can find out.
Suppose Marr were minded to investigate this problem would it be a proper activity on his part?—Oh, yes.
You would not expect a report from him until be had made a complete report, would you?—I should ultimately expect a complete report from him.
The evidence of Otto Richard, manager of Gammeter and Co., who gave particulars of the sale of the watch to Major Castor, was then taken, after which the case was adjourned to this morning.
- Section 377A of the Singapore Penal Code
- Archive of "“Abominable Type of Vice” Rife In Singapore", Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser, 28 March 1941
- Archive of ""NO DOUBT WHATEVER" OF STAFF OFFICER'S INNOCENCE", Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser, 17 April 1941
- Archive of "STAFF OFFICER ON TRIAL IN POLICE COURT", The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884-1942), 116 January 1941, Page 9, on NewspaperSG.
This article was written by Roy Tan.