A middle aged Singaporean was sentenced to four months jail on Wednesday (27 May), after he falsely claimed that food outlets would close due to COVID-19 restrictions in a post published on a private Facebook group, even though he deleted the post after 15 minutes of publishing it.
40-year-old Kenneth Lai Yong Hui, a taxi driver, had falsely claimed that the Government was closing food courts and coffee shops and that supermarkets would only be open twice a week. Urging people to be prepared for the closure, the post said, “Better go stock up your stuff for the next month or so.”
Although Lai took down the post in about 15 minutes, the public prosecutor urged the courts to give the taxi driver a punishment that would act as a deterrent against similar offences. Deputy public prosecutor Deborah Lee said, “The psychological fight to allay fear and hysteria is just as important as the fight to contain the spread of Covid-19.”
Lai could have been sentenced to a maximum of three years’ jail and/or a fine of up to S$10,000 for the offence of transmitting a false message.