| Tuesday October 21st 2014

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Over 10 offers to pay student hacker’s fine


Chinese undergraduate Zhao Ke, fined $15,000 for hacking into his former school’s computer network, has received “over ten” offers to help pay his fine.

At least two law firms here, including Allen & Gledhill, have also offered to help him appeal the sentence.

The 21-year-old who is doing a double degree in engineering and economics on a National University of Singapore scholarship, met up with lawyers from Allen & Gledhill on Wednesday.

While he has yet to make a final decision, with the fine settled “there was no big need to appeal and I need to catch up on my studies,” he said.


Zhao hacked into Raffles Junior College computers in March to find out his classmates’ A-level scores. He was caught while copying data from a teacher’s computer.

Zhao, who came to Singapore in 2002 to do his O-levels and stayed on since, had just received his results two weeks prior to the incident. He scored four As, two distinctions and a merit for his “S” papers, extra-hard papers reserved for top students.

His request for probation was denied, and Zhao was fined $15,000, payable in $1,000 monthly instalments.

He had initially indicated, through his lawyer, that he would be able to pay the fine from his tuition earnings.

But he later told The Sunday Times that he was unable to pay the full sum and would have to go to jail for five weeks to offset the fine by $5,000.

Following that, several people contacted The Straits Times to offer to pay Zhao’s fines.

So far, there have been “over ten” offers to either pay the entire fine, or part of the fine, Zhao told The Straits Times.

He is currently in discussion with one donor to tutor his children in return for paying off the fine.

Another, a doctor in his 40s who declined to be named, said he wanted to help because what Zhao did was “not a crime”.

“Yes, he made a mistake, but he should not have to go to jail for it,” he said.

Even as offers to help streamed in, online users are taking a harder line.

Many Netizens on sites like HardwareZone, for instance, said that Zhao’s NUS scholarship should be terminated and the money be given to Singaporeans instead.

The NUS has convened a Board of Discipline to look into Zhao’s case.

When news that an anonymous donor had offered to pay Zhao’s fine broke on Wednesday, Netizens also slammed those offering to help him, saying that they should look closer to home if they wanted to help.

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