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Man, 47, jailed for breaching stay-home notice after return from Batam

SINGAPORE — He was caught in the act of leaving his home while serving a stay-home order, but Chong Chun Wah ignored the warnings that the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) gave him and left his home a second time.

Man, 47, jailed for breaching stay-home notice after return from Batam

Chong Chun Wah pictured outside the State Courts on April 21, 2020.

SINGAPORE — He was caught in the act of leaving his home while serving a stay-home order, but Chong Chun Wah ignored the warnings that the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) gave him and left his home a second time.

On Wednesday (May 6), the 47-year-old store packer was jailed five weeks on one count of breaching his stay-home notice.

Two similar charges, for leaving home to check his letter box and visiting a coffee shop, were taken into consideration.

The court heard that on March 17, Chong had returned to Singapore from Batam, Indonesia, and was ordered to stay home until March 31 to prevent any possible spread of Covid-19.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) V Jesudevan said that Chong understood the notice, which stated that he could not leave his home even to buy food and essential items, and acknowledged it by signing on it before clearing immigration and heading home.

Despite this, officers from ICA who were checking in on Chong found that he had left home on March 24.

Chong claimed that he went to buy food from a coffee shop in Jurong East that was about three or four bus stops away.

ICA officers reminded Chong that he needed to adhere to the stay-home notice, DPP Jesudevan said.

Although Chong acknowledged this reminder, he left home again on March 29 to walk to a nearby coffee shop in Bukit Batok, which he claimed was not crowded.

He returned home about 30 to 45 minutes later.

Court documents showed that he had left home on March 28 to check his letter box as well.  

DPP Jesudevan said that the global scale of the Covid-19 pandemic is “nothing short of staggering”, and therefore, complying with stay-home curbs to stem the spread of the coronavirus “becomes more important as each day goes by”.

“(Chong’s) utter disregard for the safety of people outside his place of accommodation must be met with condemnation," the prosecutor said, as he asked for Chong to be sentenced to at least seven weeks' jail. 

“The law... points out that deterrent sentences are required when public health and safety are at stake,” he added.

“It is necessary for the court to send a clear message to the public that breaches of stay-home notices will not be tolerated, and that severe punishments will be meted out.” 

Chong, who was not represented by a lawyer, pleaded for leniency and said that he needed to manage and pay his household and rental bills.

For breaching his stay-home notice, he could have been jailed up to six months, fined up to S$10,000, or both.

Related topics

Covid-19 coronavirus stay-home notice breach ICA court crime

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