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FAY PLANS TO LEAVE SINGAPORE WITHIN 24 HOURS OF HIS RELEASE

SHARE FAY PLANS TO LEAVE SINGAPORE WITHIN 24 HOURS OF HIS RELEASE

An American teenager who was flogged for vandalism plans to leave Singapore within 24 hours after he is released from prison, his mother said Monday.

Michael Fay is scheduled to be freed Tuesday morning and will head for the United States on Wednesday, accompanied by his father, George Fay of Kettering, Ohio. The elder Fay arrived in Singapore on Sunday.The teenager will spend time saying private farewells to friends after his release, his mother, Randy Chan, told The Associated Press.

"He's not planning on saying anything until he is out of Singapore," she said.

Fay has been in Queenstown Prison since March 31. He marked his 19th birthday on May 30, and his fellow seniors at Singapore American School graduated while he was behind bars.

Fay, who has been living in Singapore with his mother and stepfather since 1992, was accused along with eight other foreign youths with spraying paint on cars and other vandalism in a 10-day spree last September.

The arrests attracted little interest until Fay pleaded guilty in March to two vandalism charges and received a mandatory sentence of three strokes with a rattan cane for each count. He also was fined and given jail time.

The caning penalty produced a debate in Singapore and the United States about whether it fit the crime.

Singapore's leaders and some Americans supported the flogging, saying crime is high in the United States because of a lenient approach to criminals. Others described flogging as "barbaric," and an appeal from President Clinton got Fay's sentence reduced to four lashes.

Authorities also said similar consideration would be granted to others involved in the vandalism spree with Fay.

Shiu Chi Ho, 17, a Hong Kong Chinese, had his punishment reduced from 12 lashes to six and his prison term cut from eight to six months Saturday.

Although Fay admitted guilt in a plea bargain, both he and Shiu insisted that police coerced them into confessions.