Singapore — No doubt about it, Covid-19 changed our lives completely last year, and the adjustments have not always been easy, based on the number and variety of breaches and violations we have seen since the pandemic began.
As we start a new year in 2021 we’d like to remember the worst of these offenders who refused to stay put. Most of them ended up paying a heavy price.
Hey people, let’s do better this year, all right?
Singaporeans were not happy to learn that while most were at home during the Circuit Breaker in May, two groups of foreigners meet together freely at Robertson Quay.
Photos of mostly non-Singaporeans freely gathering and loitering at Robertson Quay went viral online, resulting in seven expatriates from the UK, US and Austria getting charged with offences under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act.
Four of the seven people went on a pub crawl in three pubs, and the other three met for a beer. In June, the seven expats pleaded guilty to one count each of breaching COVID-19 regulations by meeting each other without reasonable excuse. They were all fined thousands of dollars for breaching Circuit Breaker rules.
Also in May, a man named Lee Chee Kin was charged on multiple counts, including theft, criminal trespass, and the breach of COVID-19 regulations. What the 39-year-old Mr Lee had been stealing was women’s underwear, and not for the first time either. From April 2018 to April 2020, Mr Lee had gone out numerous times to take bras and panties from different women. Over 100 bras and 41 panties were found in his home.
On April 15 of this year, when circuit breaker restrictions had already been implemented, he left his house while he was still on bail for earlier offences in order to snatch some more women’s undergarments. Moreover, he was not wearing a mask when he left his house.
Mr Lee entered a guilty plea to 10 charges of theft, criminal trespass, unauthorised access to computer material, and a breach of COVID-19 regulations.
Around 40 men and women were seen a on May 17 milling around the bus stop along Admiralty Road, close to Block 20 Marsiling Lane’s hawker centre, gathering together to gamble.
Several people were seen at one bench counting and collecting money, while others were assigned as lookouts and were stationed on the overhead bridge to watch out in case the authorities arrived. If the police would approach, these lookouts would tell the others, who would then disperse quickly, but come together if there were no police after all.
Some from among the group have been seen drinking or smoking with their face masks put aside, and packaging from food was also seen in the area.
Skiing on the road is one thing. Skiing down the road without a shirt is another. But skiing down the road without a shirt during the circuit breaker should be in its own category of 2020 weirdness.
The Facebook page All Singapore Stuff posted a video of the man skiing along the intersection of Boon Tat Street and Shenton Way across SGX Centre 1. The footage was taken on May 5, based on the dashcam time stamp.
Upon closer examination, the person appeared to be roller skiing, an off-snow equivalent to cross-country skiing which can be done on hard surfaces due to wheels attached to the skis.
A 40-year-old Singaporean woman went viral this year for thinking that her claim of “I am a sovereign,” would prevent her from getting into trouble with the law.
During the first few weeks of the Circuit Breaker, the woman challenged the police by taking a video of them after they stopped her for not wearing a mask to the market. She was arrested and fined.
On May 3 she was filmed again, arguing with the people around her regarding the law. “Read the law,” she can be heard saying to someone.
The woman added that she was previously confronted by the police and claimed that she had got away scot-free. “I’ll show you a video of the police here, same thing, trying to stop me and then walked off, without a warning, without a fine,” she said, once again claiming her sovereignty.
And yes, she was arrested…again.
Does love cause people to throw caution to the wind? In June, a 30-year-old woman named Renukha Arumugam was fined S$5,000 for several offences, including leaving her house twice to meet her boyfriend during the Circuit Breaker.
Ms Arumugam had a fight with her family on April 17. She tried to call her boyfriend, but was unable to reach him and decided to go to his block instead, an unwise decision she made while she was drunk. Her boyfriend met her at the void deck as he did not want her to come up to his flat. When they met, she told him about her family issues and began to cry.
Unfortunately, someone heard them and called the police. When the police arrived they saw Ms Arumugam and her boyfriend, both unmasked, standing and waiting for a taxi.
We know that teenagers make bad decisions at times but this one was particularly ill-conceived. In May, 10 teenage males and one female faced up to five years of jail time for having an unlawful gathering as well as breaking Circuit Breaker restrictions.
The teens met on May 25 at Boon Lay POSB to settle a dispute. According to court documents, several of the teens brought knives to the meeting, which occurred shortly past 11pm.
The young people, who are all between the ages of 16 and 19, had allegedly come together for a “settlement talk” over a previous dispute. But the settlement talk turned into a fight, wherein some teens wielded their knives, which is why they face one count of joining an unlawful assembly while armed with a deadly weapon as well as another offence under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act.
8. Woman leaves home during Circuit Breaker to buy bubble tea, later tests positive for Covid-19
A 22-year old woman named Nurul Afiqah Mohammed left home to buy bubble tea when she was serving a stay-home notice in March, but also went out at other times and exposed others. Later, she tested positive for Covid-19 and was confined at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.
Ms Nurul appeared before court on Dec 11 and is facing a total of seven charges under the Infectious Diseases Act, with the intent to enter a guilty plea. She returns to court on Jan 22. She could be fined as much as S$10,000, serve a jail term of six months, or both.
We sincerely hope that all these violators have learned their lessons.
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