Summit has Singapore in spotlight years after Kettering teen’s caning

Hosting the U.S./North Korea summit between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un has Singapore in the international spotlight this week, as it was in the spring of 1994 for a very different reason.

Undated photo of Michael Fay. SUMBITTED (SUBMITTED / FILE)

That’s the year Singapore gave a caning to Michael Fay, who had lived in Kettering with his father. The punishment handed down after the 18-year-old was found guilty of vandalism prompted an international debate and protests from then-President Bill Clinton.

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The New York Times at the time apparently talked to a retired banker who lived a few doors from the Fays’ large brick home. The neighbor, the Times reported, “said he would support the caning of local teen-agers who have blown up his mailbox with cherry bombs.”

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Fay, who was then living overseas with his mother and stepfather, denied spray painting cars, for which he served 83 days in a Singapore jail. He was also sentenced to six lashes with a wet rattan cane, and was believed to be the first American ever sentenced to be caned there.

June 22, 1994 Michael Fay gives the crowd and media a thumbs up after arriving at his Kettering home after being caned in Singapore. To the right is neighbor Liz Brown holding his 3-year-old stepbrother Chris. (SKIP PETERSON) / STAFF / FILE (SKIP PETERSON)


The number of lashes was later dropped to four. Clinton – addressing the issue in the White House’s Rose Garden – called the punishment “a mistake,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

Fay, who accused the police of forcing him to confess by slapping and punching him, returned to Kettering in early June of that year.


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