[Note: This is a revised version of my initial post. I had stated in that post that Dr Wu had paid someone to take the rap. I have been informed this is incorrect, and no payment was made. I am sorry for the error and have corrected it in this post.]
I must admit I was surprised by the fine of $1,000 imposed on Woffles Wu.
Such offences are undoubtedly serious, as they seek to undermine the course of justice. Others who have committed similar offences have been jailed. I do not know what the Judge took into account in making his decision, and I accept that no two cases are the same. However, I hope there will be an opportunity for the court to explain its reasons and how other cases where jail terms were imposed were distinguished. That will promote transparency and confidence in our legal system, and deal with allegations of unfair treatment, which have already appeared on the net.
I believe that part of the problem is that most times, the law gives judges very little discretion in sentencing - it is usually a fine or jail or both. There may be occasions where a fine is too lenient, while jail may be too harsh. Further, if an offender cannot pay a fine, jail is the default. That creates two problems - it discriminates between those can pay and those who cannot; and it converts a light punishment to a heavy one.
I would prefer if the court had more flexibility in sentencing so that the punishment truly fits the crime. For example, where a person gets another to take the rap for a traffic offence to preserve his driving licence, wouldn't a more appropriate punishment be to suspend his licence? Inflict on the offender what he was trying by criminal means to avoid. Likewise for less serious cases of vandalism, get the offender to clean up more than he has damaged.