In a peculiar and concerning incident, a passenger who intentionally pried open the doors of both moving and stationary MRT trains on various lines in Singapore, claiming it was to “test them,” has been ordered to undergo mandatory psychiatric treatment.
Vanessa Wang Zi Qi, a 47-year-old man diagnosed with bipolar disorder, received the order on January 17 after pleading guilty to two counts of being a public nuisance and one count of voluntarily causing hurt.
He was sentenced to undergo mandatory psychiatric treatment by the court in lieu of prison time, according to The Straits Times.
Background of the Incident
Wang’s actions involved prising open the doors of MRT trains, both in motion and at a standstill, across different lines. This not only posed a risk to personal safety but also disrupted the smooth operation of the public transportation system.
Videos circulating online depict a passenger attempting to pry open the sliding doors of a moving train on the North-South Line. Fellow commuters can be heard yelling at the person to cease the dangerous act. According to an eyewitness, the attempt briefly succeeded in opening one door before the intervention of other commuters prevented further actions.
SMRT president Lam Sheau Kai addressed the incident, noting that SMRT staff were alerted on Nov 29. However, the passenger reportedly turned uncooperative and aggressive when staff entered the train to investigate.
Photographs shared online reveal the aftermath of the incident, with the passenger lying in a foetal position on the platform of Ang Mo Kio station, surrounded by TransCom officers and station staff.
Upon pleading guilty, Vanessa Wang was sentenced to a mandatory treatment order lasting 12 months instead of serving time in prison. Deputy Principal District Judge Kessler Soh emphasized the importance of complying with psychiatric recommendations and adhering to prescribed medication. Another charge of being a public nuisance was considered during the sentencing process.
Reports from the Institute of Mental Health revealed that around the time of the offenses, Wang was experiencing a hypomanic relapse of bipolar disorder. This mental state is characterized by elevated and irritable moods, increased energy levels, reduced need for sleep, and engaging in activities with potential consequences.
The prosecution acknowledged that this hypomanic relapse significantly impaired Wang’s judgment and impulse control, contributing to the offenses committed. Despite this, it was determined that Wang was not of unsound mind at the time and was deemed fit to plead in court.
Long-Term Diagnosis and Missed Treatments
Wang, identified as male in court documents, was diagnosed in 2019 with bipolar disorder and gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria refers to the unease experienced by individuals due to a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity. Unfortunately, Wang missed follow-up treatments for two years, exacerbating the challenges posed by these mental health conditions.
Deputy Principal District Judge Kessler Soh stressed the importance of preventing such offenses in the future and urged Wang to comply with psychiatric recommendations and medication. The mandatory psychiatric treatment order aims to address the underlying mental health issues that contributed to the unconventional and risky behavior displayed by the accused.