Singapore socialite sentenced in teen sex scandal



Howard Shaw, a member of a prominent Singaporean family, was sentenced to three months in jail Monday, July 30, 2012, for having paid sex with a minor, as dozens of other accused men await their fate in a prostitution scandal. AFP PHOTO/ROSLAN RAHMAN

SINGAPORE—A prominent Singaporean businessman was sentenced to three months in jail Monday for having paid sex with a minor, as dozens of other accused men await their fate in a prostitution scandal.

Howard Shaw, 41, a grandson of Asian movie mogul Runme Shaw and a former environmental activist, was charged in April after being found to have engaged the services of a 17-year-old Singaporean in October 2010.

Shaw, a married father of two, is appealing the sentence and posted bail pending the appeal hearing.

Prostitution is legal in Singapore, but in the scandal, which erupted this year, 51 men ranging from their early 20s to late 40s have been charged under a 2008 law that makes it a crime to pay for sex with a woman under 18.

The list of men charged with paying for sex with the same underage prostitute includes businessmen, civil servants and uniformed officers. The maximum sentence is seven years in prison and a fine.

District court judge See Kee Oon said he was “unable to agree that there was an honest and reasonable mistake” committed by Shaw, and therefore had to impose a sentence that would serve as a strong deterrent to customers of underage prostitution.

“The factual context showed that the accused was looking for an 18-year-old for his liaison,” See said. “What he implicitly must have recognized was the risk that she might not be 18.”

The judge rejected Shaw’s defense of having been duped by a now defunct website advertising the prostitute’s services, which stated that she was 18, and noted that he never asked for proof of her age.

“He was reckless. He could have guarded against committing a potential offense, but he did not take any steps towards this end.”

The prostitute cannot be named because she was a minor when the offenses were committed.

Shaw, who is married to a former beauty pageant contestant, is the fourth man to be convicted for having paid sex with the same call girl.

Five foreigners are also accused, among them Juerg Buergin, a 40-year-old Swiss expatriate who had worked for banking giant UBS.

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 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.

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • nakatutok

    dito sa atin magiging Congressman pa sana yan

  • efriend

    In the PHL, a person like that will grace the covers of society magazines, will be a Governor or Representative of a province, will show off his mansion in Kris’ TV program, or invite all the Bishops during his big birthday parties.  The hypocrite people of the PHL are busy protesting against Lady Gaga while ignoring a real pedophile in their backyard. Think Chavit!

    • GuestUzer

       LOL.. Tompak.. Natamaan mo. Chavit is the man. Kapalmuks, taking advantage of the weaknesses of the Child.

      • aeon888

        Huwag kalimutan sila COngressman Manny Pacquiao, Senator Ramon Revilla Sr, Ex-Pres Erap Estrada at iba pang mga open playboy politicians. ONli in the pilipins!

  • Mang Teban

    Singapore can afford to cater to both the macho (mostly married) men who are not ashamed to hire the services of female prostitutes and to set age barrier for female prostitutes to have a legitimate profession. What can I say? That’s Singapore’s culture and I suppose the people there have no choice but to abide by their laws on prostitution.

    But, to me, that is no measure of a society that can proudly claim that the family is the basic unit of a nation. So while fathers can go and live a double standard of sex life, their mothers cannot probably do the same because if they do, the wives will be charged for adultery (?).

    While the Philippines is not yet infected by this double standard, I hope that Filipinos would defend the foundation of our society which is the family. Is this not a case of “battered wife” also because the husband can have sex with a prostitute and it is accepted by Singapore’s brand of morality?

    I wonder what the RH advocates can say about this – that condoms and contraceptives that surely abound in the legalized prostitution market in Singapore breed moral decay among the people there. So, if Filipinos think that the RH bill will solve “hunger and poverty”, then they should also start thinking when condoms and contraceptives are used by those who engage in casual, free, and safe sex whether they are unwittingly doing it as prostitutes or not.

    • mfdo

       hehe .. are you joking ? contraception and condoms will reduce the big pain of Filipinos – unwanted pregnancy .. and that is a far long story to associate with Prostitution ..

      and for those ignorant, it is not LEGAL for prostitution – the prostituttes have to be registered and legally checked etc. etc – and in terms of un-registered (including the thousand of filipinas heading there in the pretext of working as hostes etc) the illegal outnumber the legal .. and well, when caught none of the trafficked victims claim to be trafficekd – lest the ‘supplier’ (read – Kababayan who enticed them to the trade) be put in trouble ..

      fix that first than blame everybody else for our own problem

    • mon key

      This is really very funny. “legalized prostitution in Singapore breeds moral decay among the people there”. How about morality in the Philippines – it has gone beyond decay already. The double standards that is practiced here is how Filipinos view morality. Pathetic!

      • teekaye2

         Birth control is about giving Women the option of not getting pregnant and bringing a child into the World that probably she could not feed and support.
        The Church does nobody any favour by opposing birth control, it should be the Womens free choice

      • mon key

        you are so right!

  • divictes

    Justice is really blind… in Singapore.

    • mfdo

       why would you say that ?

    • teekaye2

       Justice is even worse in Philippines look how long it takes to convict the family involved in the journalist killings. The witnesses could all be murdered before anyone is convicted, would it take this long if it was jeepney driver or any other poorly paid person ? I think not!

  • rosamistika16

    sa singapore kung ano ang nakasulat yun na yon ang ibig sabihin.

    sa pinas kung ano ang nakasulat daming ibig sabihin hanggang sa makalusot!

  • Marx Louis Wang

    Sa Singapore (na saksakan daw ng linis) ang pagiging “hostes” ay legal. Kaya dahil sa legal ito, e, siempre naman si mister malayang makisiping sa hostes na ito dahil may pambayad sila. May magagawa ba si misis, siempre wala, kasi legal nga, e.  Sa atin, kapag nahuli ka, patay kang bata ka, kalaban mo si misis, pati na pamilya mo (dahil sa halip ibili ng bigas, pinambayad mo sa hostes dahil kinati ka) sigurado mangingitngit sa iyo. Kaya si misis na lang ang palaging “titirahin” kaya, iyon, dumami nang dumami ang mga anak, siempre pabor ito sa simbahan. Ang pagiging legal ng pagiging hostes sa atin ay hindi sulosyon dahil mahirap lang tayo. Kung maging legal man ito, halimbawa, magkano kaya ang isang oras na “yarian” 100 pesos? magagalit niyan ang simbahan dahil dapat mahigit pa diyan ang ibinibigay nila sa koleksyon kada misa. Ah, bahala na kaya kayong magblog dito.

    • mfdo

       get your facts right – Hostess is NOT LEGAL in singapore – just because you go there and work illegally and then tell your family you are a hostess don’t make it legal. a lot of girls willingly go to SIngapore, and then claim naive .. when in truth they were taken to Singapore by their friends and relatives to work as prosti.. and when the law catches them plead ignorance and say they were forced .. forced by who ?? should be enticed by the riches in Singapore .. and enticed by friends and family working illegally. Now if the Philippines is well take care of – and reduce poverty and generate jobs, why anybody work as hostess in other country ?

    • Mr

      Marlou, mukhang speaking from the heart at true experience mo yang sinabi mo ah. It’s better to start saving 100 pesos now, para makapunta ka sa Singapore at doon mo ilabas ang “kati”. Jeje…

  • rock7222

    Sa Singapore, lahat may takot sa batas. Kahit Pulis or Politiko nakukulong. Kahit Amerikano or Briton – kulong pa rin. Kaya umasenso ang Singapore. May disiplina ang tao.

    It is the TOTAL OPPOSITE ng Pilipinas at mga Pilipino.

    Walang Disiplina, Walang Takot, Abusadong mga Pulis at Pulitiko, Walang malakas na nakukulong.

    Ganoon din ang Japan, South Korea at Taiwan- pawang may disiplina ang tao. Ang mga pulitiko 500% na mas matino. Ang corruption ay hindi problema. Bihira lang mangyari at malaking iskandalo.

    Sa Pilipinas, 90% ng Pulitiko ay magnanakaw. Ang marami magnanakaw at abusado.

    10% lang ang talagang matino. For all of Pnoy’s mistakes or weakness- ONE THING everyone can agree is he is straight-matinong tao. Parang Nanay at Tatay niya.

    If we had even 50% of Filipino politicians who were like Pnoy pagdating sa pagiging matino at hindi magnanakaw- Malaking Asenso ang pilipinas.

    Unfortunatately, ang reality at nakakatakot.

    Lalo na sa 2016. Dalawang MALAKING Magnanakaw ang malakas sa pagka Presidente at Vice President.

    Pag si Negro at ang kanyang Matabang maitim na running mate ang nanalo- TAPOS nanaman ang Pilipinas! Kaya hindi tayo makahabol habol sa ekonomiya ng ibang Asian nations- kasi napakaraming botanteng Bobo sa Pilipinas.

    Iboto mo ba naman si Erap, si GMA- that’s 10 LONG WASTED YEARS of Corruption instead of Progress!!!!

    Now si Negro naman ang gustong maging Presidente at si baboy naman ang gustong maging VP sa 2016.

    Kaya kahit close family friend ni Pnoy ang pamilya ni Negro, hindi niya talaga kayang suportahan sa 2016 dahil alam ng pamilya Aquino na napaka malaking Magnanakaw nitong si Negro!

    • wyl5326

      That is because we have a Tayo-Tayo system that permeates our whole country. Let us get rid of that by having an outsider as CJ and let those insiders sulked in their corner of they can’t take it because they want to retain a Tayo-Tayo system !

  • Mamerto

    This appears to me as a clear case of extortion, blackmail, false-advertisement…, and criminal conspiracy with a person of authority.

  • pablosantino

    dami din mga magdalenang pinay dyan sa singapore..

    • Mr

      Nakatikim ka na? Details please…

      • pablosantino

        …kasi ayaw

      • pablosantino

        …kasi ayaw

  • Truetomylove4

    What is wrong with sex with a young woman? Is it because all the higher ups don’t want anyone getting the young girls before they do? If my own daughter wanted a man at 12 then it would be ok with me as i would ask her if she knew what she was doing and that would give us a talk about it instead of her sneaking out and doing something she might regret. I don’t blame a man but blame society for its rules. How old was Mary the mother of Jesus? Was Joseph put into a jail for having sex with her? Maybe in our times today for some reason the sick governments have made laws preventing love from abounding with young girls and older men. Both like it. 

    • teekaye2

       I am shocked that any Father or  Mother would knowing let their Daughter get involved in sex at the age of 12 .WAKE UP you are her Father and should be protecting her from s at least until she is over 16

    • aeon888

      What is your daughter’s phone number, by the way? ;)

    • Diepor

      You are clearly a phedophile.

    • ofwme2807

      you are a sex pervert???you dont know the reason for the prohibition against sex with minors under 18??even school kids children know the answer you ask a child and you will get an honest and good answer…you’re feigning ignorance and pervertism you see nothing wrong with having sex with a minor….

  • Boylupok

    wow… when it comes to crime and punishment, the philippines is miles and miles away lagging behind its asian neighbors.  when will we ever see high profiled and rich pinoys treated the same way authorities prosecute the poor and the lowly?

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks



latest videos