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Woman seen without mask in viral videos asks court for ‘immunity as a citizen’ due to ‘past SAF cases’

SINGAPORE — A 53-year-old woman who refused to wear a mask in public, including at Marina Bay Sands integrated resort, told the court on Tuesday (June 15) that she should be “granted immunity as a citizen” due to “past cases” she faced while serving in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).

Woman seen without mask in viral videos asks court for ‘immunity as a citizen’ due to ‘past SAF cases’

Phoon Chiu Yoke seen leaving the State Courts on June 15, 2021. She faces seven charges, six of which are for failing to wear a mask in public in breach of Covid-19 laws.

  • Phoon Chiu Yoke faces seven charges, mostly for not wearing a mask in public
  • She has repeatedly said that she is an ex-naval officer and asked for the charges to be dropped
  • On June 15, she said she should be “granted immunity as a citizen”
  • This was due to past cases she was part of while in the Singapore Armed Forces, she claimed

 

SINGAPORE — A 53-year-old woman who refused to wear a mask in public, including at Marina Bay Sands integrated resort, told the court on Tuesday (June 15) that she should be “granted immunity as a citizen” due to “past cases” she faced while serving in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).

Returning to court a week after undergoing a psychiatric assessment and being offered bail of S$8,000, Phoon Chiu Yoke reiterated that she was a former naval officer.

She claimed that she was an “ex-plaintiff” and “eyewitness” to many “grave matters” in the SAF, which she said she could not disclose in a public court “without causing embarrassment to the SAF or the Government of Singapore”.

Phoon now faces seven charges, six of which are for failing to wear a mask in public in breach of Covid-19 laws.

The other charge is for violating a stay-home order to stem imported coronavirus infections in June last year, when she returned from the United Kingdom.

Last month, she turned up in court to contest one of the charges for failing to wear a mask at Newton Food Centre.

After a judge adjourned the trial, she was photographed removing her mask and smiling at news photographers as she left the State Courts.

She was hauled back to court the next day, when she said that she did not know she had to wear a mask in public and found it “very abnormal”.

She was then sent to the Institute of Mental Health for two weeks for a psychiatric assessment, but details of this have not been revealed in open court.

On Tuesday, she again repeated requests from last week for the charges against her to be dropped.  

She added: “There were a few occasions when I was an ex-plaintiff to the SAF… so I cannot write representations to AGC (Attorney-General’s Chambers) without being prejudicial or causing embarrassment to SAF or the Government of Singapore.

“Due to all these cases in the past, I should be granted immunity as a citizen and as a ex-naval professional officer, it’s also not possible to take all these charges in court because it’s difficult to have a fair hearing because of all these cases.”

Last week, she said that she served for 12 years and was the “first female commanding officer”.

TODAY's checks showed that a 2015 book to mark SAF’s 50th anniversary stated that “Lieutenant-Colonel Tay Poh Leng and Major Phoon Chiu Yoke were the first women to command (Singapore’s) warships in 1999”.

District Judge Janet Wang explained that the prosecution would be pressing more charges against her, including by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, and that her past SAF history was not relevant.

Phoon then responded: “Well, Your Honour, I beg to differ due to the grave matters in the previous charges when I was serving in the SAF.”

She later clarified that she had not faced charges but was instead an eyewitness.

The judge advised her again to get legal advice for how she intends to proceed, and adjourned the case till July 6.

Phoon remains out on bail in the meantime, having turned up to court while wearing a mask.

She first made headlines on May 15 after video clips of the incident at Marina Bay Sands and other purported instances where she failed to wear a mask went viral.

In a video taken at Marina Bay Sands, Phoon was heard questioning a safe-distancing ambassador: "If you have no badge, why are you asking me to do something? Who are you representing?”

Phoon allegedly entered the shopping complex in the integrated resort without wearing a mask, despite repeated advice from the safe-distancing ambassador to do so.

If convicted under Covid-19 laws, Phoon could face a jail term of up to six months or a fine of up to S$10,000, or both, for each of the seven charges.

Related topics

face mask Covid-19 coronavirus court crime MBS

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