The Harshest of Penalties

1 April 2007

Horrific as is sounds, legendary dominoes master Lanh Nguyen will compete from now as the Singaporean Elite League's only one-armed player. And his unfortunate fate -- the amputation of his left arm as ordered by the High Court--is the result of an I-gaming promo gone bad.

His story began in April 2006, when the team that he captains, the Malay District 21 Prawns, signed a sponsorship deal with online betting site SingWinNow. The Prawns, defending champions for five years running, agreed to display the SingWinNow logo and URL on their famous hooded black and red warm-up jerseys for the 2007 season, which commenced Wednesday, as it traditionally does, with the annual "Three Nights of Spring Delights" festival at the Tiger's Eye Rec-plex.

But District 21 was warned by the court on Monday that displaying the logos would violate Singapore law and would result in immediate prosecutions of management as well as each individual who displays the logo.

The sponsorship arrangement was immediately suspended; however, Nguyen, the all-time Elite League wins leader and 11-time league MVP, protested the court order by having the SingWinNow logo tattooed on his left bicep, which was exposed during game play after his warm-up jersey was removed.

Nguyen, a Singapore citizen of Vietnamese decent, was advised by his attorneys that he could display the logo without the threat of prosecution if the URL was not included in the artwork. The court disagreed.

Nguyen was allowed to complete his five matches--all of them wins--and taken into custody immediately following the awards ceremony on Friday. He faced a trial Saturday morning and was found guilty of violating a Singaporean law pertaining to the promotion of gambling services and sentenced to the fullest extent because of his failure to heed the court's warning prior to the games.

Unfortunately for Nguyen, a secondary clause in the law will cost him more than he could ever have imagined. Along with a mandatory fine of 20,000 SDG for each violation, the law calls for the immediate destruction of all advertising materials. It was not anticipated that a human body would be used as "advertising material," but the sentencing guidelines called for the removal (from above the point of the ad) and subsequent destruction of Nguyen's left arm.

An emergency appeal filed Friday evening was denied, and Nguyen's arm was removed and incinerated at 9:00 AM Saturday morning.

The harsh penalty has already drawn criticism from human rights groups, which are calling for an official apology and the immediate re-drafting of the law. Neither the court nor the legislative council has commented on their intentions, although High Court Magistrate Victor Udi acknowledged that the consequences in light of the law's intention were "problematic."

"It is probably a shame that Mr. Nguyen had to suffer this penalty," Udi said, "but this is the law, and we must follow it with no exceptions."

Nguyen's agent, Curtis Marshall, sadly agrees.

"This is an awful, terrible thing, and we are very troubled by what has happened," Marshall said. "But we cannot expect the court to disregard the law just because of one man's plight, and we respect their decision."

Amazingly, the always whimsical Nguyen was a bit more light-hearted.

"I guess I can't complain too much," he said this morning during a brief press conference. "People say this crime should have cost me and arm and a leg, but I got away with just an arm."

Meanwhile, Nguyen plans to rejoin the tour by the end of the month, and he assured the media that he will not come displaying another tattoo.

Editor's Note: This article is a pathetic attempt at an April Fools gag. None of it is true or real. Sorry.

Following an editorial internship with River City Group through St. Louis Community College, Cedric Face ("C-Face") joined the IGN team in October 2006 as a special correspondent in the Far East. His passion for martial arts (movies, weapons, action figures, etc.) not only prolonged his college graduation until the age of 53, it also qualified him as IGN's resident expert on Asia . . . and subsequently got him transferred to Kuala Lumpur, where he is now based. Aside from experiencing chronic diarrhea since stepping off the boat, he loves it there.