Singapore — A man was fined S$4,500 on Wednesday (May 20) for being at a social gathering and disregarding circuit breaker measures one day after they were implemented.
The court heard that Francis Soh Seng Chye, 38, met his cousin, Ms Lye Bao Ru, at her apartment in Circuit Road to give her the keys to a car they share as they are both private part-time drivers. She ended up inviting him to dinner in her flat.
The dinner, which was attended by at least seven people including Ms Ru’s two children, lasted at least an hour.
Soh took photos of the gathering and put them on Facebook. He wrote: “After a long long long long super long day … we are having a illegal gathering … so what? Enjoy the food to the max.”
Friends who saw the post asked him why he was at a gathering despite the circuit breaker measures. One person sent the post to Stomp. Others followed, causing the post to go viral. Soh later took it down at the request of his cousin.
During the hearing, Deputy Public Prosecutor Kenneth Chin called for Soh to be fined S$5,000. This was because Soh had defied the law while “members of society have to make enormous sacrifices of forgoing the companionship of families and loved ones”.
Mr Chin added: “The accused’s offence in this case is particularly serious. This is because not only did he willfully refuse to comply with a law that prohibited gathering for a social purpose, he mischievously went further to broadcast his defiance on social media.”
He continued: “Not only would this cause alarm about the health implications of such gatherings, it also mocks and belittles the efforts of those who are abiding by the law, and has the effect of encouraging others of similarly flouting the law.”
Mr Chin stressed to the court in response to Soh’s “so what?” comment. “What happens is you get charged, and when the rest of the nation is staying home this morning, you are here to face the consequences of your actions. I hope this answers your question, Mr Soh.”
The court also heard that this was not Soh’s first offence. He had been jailed before due to drug consumption, having attended a drug rehabilitation centre a few times as a result.
Soh, who was not represented, explained that he has been attending dinners in his cousin’s house for the last two years. But he acknowledged that he did act “childish” when he posted the photos on his social media account.
Soh could have been jailed up to six months, slapped with a S$10,000 fine or both. He is the first citizen to be charged under Regulation 6 of the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Regulations 2020, which states that social gatherings are not allowed during this time. /TISG