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Woman seen in viral video not wearing face mask at MBS turns up at court without mask on

SINGAPORE — A 53-year-old woman, who was caught not wearing a face mask while at Marina Bay Sands (MBS) in a video that went viral earlier this month, turned up at the State Courts on Monday (May 24) without one on for part of the time.

Phoon Chiu Yoke leaving the State Courts on May 24, 2021.

Phoon Chiu Yoke leaving the State Courts on May 24, 2021.

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SINGAPORE — A 53-year-old woman, who was caught not wearing a face mask while at Marina Bay Sands (MBS) in a video that went viral earlier this month, turned up at the State Courts on Monday (May 24) without one on for part of the time.

Phoon Chiu Yoke was meant to go on trial on Monday over a separate charge of failing to wear a mask at Newton Hawker Centre on May 8 last year, during the circuit breaker period imposed to restrict movement and activities in curbing the spread of Covid-19.

She now faces only this charge. However, the trial was adjourned pending further investigations into more alleged offences.

On Monday afternoon, she walked towards the court entrance while holding on to a blue disposable mask.

When she saw press photographers there, she hooked the mask over one ear. She then put it on properly only after a security guard told her to do so.

Phoon Chiu Yoke arriving at the State Courts on May 24, 2021. Photo: Ili Nadhirah Mansor/TODAY

She appeared without a lawyer before District Judge A Sangeetha, who cautioned her to leave her mask on when she began taking it off while in the dock.

Prosecutor Imran Hamid from the National Environment Agency (NEA) then told the court that the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) had directed him to postpone the trial, as it is looking further into her matter.

Mr Imran said that he was “not at liberty to disclose the exact specifics” but that the new issues arose from “certain matters of late”.

Phoon first made headlines about two weeks ago when video clips of what appeared to be the incident at MBS integrated resort began circulating on social media and messaging applications, along with other purported similar incidents involving her.

The police said in a statement that they received a call for help on May 15 at MBS, where Phoon had allegedly entered the building without wearing a mask despite repeated advice from a safe distancing ambassador to do so.

She is now under police investigation for this and other similar instances.

In the video at MBS, Phoon can be heard questioning the safe distancing ambassador: "If you have no badge, why are you asking me to do something? Who are you representing?"

During the court hearing on Monday, she initially objected to the adjournment, asking how it would affect her case.

“Should this matter be suspended, would it be completely finished off or delayed for a period of time and who’s going to pay for the administrative costs that would be incurred?” she asked.

Mr Imran then asked for an adjournment of four to six weeks, pending the completion of investigations.

Phoon eventually said that she would “exercise good faith” and oblige to the prosecution’s request, but asked that the delay not be “too long so we don’t incur any other administrative costs”.

District Judge Sangeetha called for a pre-trial conference on June 23 for Mr Imran to give an update, and set a tentative date on July 12 for the trial to begin.

Afterwards, upon leaving the State Courts, Phoon took her mask off and smiled at photographers as she walked towards a pickup point.

Anyone found to be not wearing a mask or not wearing a mask properly outside their place of residence and in breach of Regulation 3A of the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Regulations 2020 can be fined up to S$10,000 or jailed up to six months, or both.

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safe distancing face mask Marina Bay Sands Covid-19 coronavirus

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