SINGAPORE – A man who hurled vulgarities and assaulted a then 13-year-old boy in a lift is no longer the chief executive of food and beverage firm The Prive Group.
In a Facebook post on Friday (Oct 22), the company said that French national Vu Han Jean-Luc Kha, 44, will no longer be holding the position “with immediate effect”.
After his conviction on Thursday, The Prive Group made a statement that day saying that he was still its CEO and that he had helped it “stay afloat amid the ongoing (Covid-19) restrictions”.
Its spokesman also said: “(Kha) remains a valuable member of our management team and has our full and unwavering support.”
Unhappy with these comments, several netizens flamed the company as they felt that it continued to back Kha despite his offences. Some even said that they would boycott its eateries.
In its statement on Friday, The Prive Group now said that it strongly condemns his actions and all acts of violence, adding: “(We) would like to reassure the public that his personal actions do not in any way reflect our core values.
“We are glad that he is currently seeking the necessary treatments for his mental health and believe that the Singapore justice system will deal out the necessary punishment.”
On Thursday, Kha pleaded guilty in a district court to one count each of assault and harassment.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Goh Yong Ngee had said the victim, who cannot be named due to a gag order, and his then 12-year-old brother were in a lift at Parklane Shopping Mall in Selegie Road on Nov 22, 2019, when it stopped on the fifth storey around 8.15pm.
An intoxicated Kha and a Singaporean man, 41, joined the two boys in the lift. Kha directed lewd comments at the victim who felt alarmed.
Kha then assaulted the older boy “for no apparent reason”, said the DPP.
The other man held Kha back and pushed him out of the lift after it stopped on the first storey. But Kha refused to leave and continued assaulting the victim.
A male witness then alerted the police.
On Thursday, defence lawyer Teh Ee-Von asked District Judge Lim Tse Haw to call for a report to assess her client’s suitability for a mandatory treatment order (MTO), as he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Offenders given an MTO will undergo treatment for their mental conditions in lieu of jail time.
Arguing against the defence’s request, DPP Goh said: “Rehabilitation can also take place in a prison setting.”
Judge Lim did not call for an MTO suitability report on Thursday and Kha is expected to be sentenced on Dec 14.
For assault, an offender can be jailed for up to two years and fined up to $5,000.
For harassment, an offender can be jailed for up to six months and fined up to $5,000.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.