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Woman who said she’s ‘sovereign’ to be charged; Shanmugam says people rejecting laws shouldn't expect to benefit from society

SINGAPORE — The Singaporean woman who did not wear a mask when she was at Shunfu Mart and allegedly attacked a person who told her to do so will be charged on Tuesday (May 5).

Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam, in a Facebook post on May 4, 2020, painted a scenario should the woman end up infecting someone with the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.

Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam, in a Facebook post on May 4, 2020, painted a scenario should the woman end up infecting someone with the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.

SINGAPORE — The Singaporean woman who did not wear a mask when she was at Shunfu Mart and allegedly attacked a person who told her to do so will be charged on Tuesday (May 5).

The woman also caused a public nuisance and was shown on a viral video saying that she is “sovereign” when told to comply with the rule to wear a mask. She was arrested at about 9.10pm on Monday, the police said in a statement.

“Everyone should take the circuit breaker measures seriously. The police will not tolerate such blatant disregard of the law and wilful breaches of safe distancing measures,” the police added.

Shortly after she was arrested, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam published a post on Facebook saying that those who do not want to obey the rules of the society they live in should not expect any of the benefits that come from that particular system of governance.

Referring to this case, he said that he was aware of several people sharing a video of a woman who was shown refusing to obey instructions from officers, not wearing a mask, and saying she is “sovereign”.

The woman is now being investigated by the authorities for that incident and another where she refused to wear a mask at a market recently.

Last month, it was reported that the woman turned aggressive when SG Clean ambassadors from the National Environment Agency approached her and asked her to leave the hawker centre at Shunfu Mart.

She was not observing safe distancing when buying food at a stall and went on to eat the food she bought on-site, which was not allowed. She refused to cooperate when told to leave and took photographs and videos of the ambassadors, doing the same with the police when they arrived to handle the case.

Mr Shanmugam said that he had checked up what the woman might have referred to as “sovereign”.

“There is a movement in the US, and adherents to that movement, (broadly speaking) reject Government, reject the police and any kind of authority.

“Well and good. But then such people should not live within society — she should not expect any of the benefits that come from this system of governance, including her security, medical care (and) other benefits,” he said.

Mr Shanmugam then painted a scenario should the woman end up infecting someone with the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.

“If she doesn’t follow the rules and, say, ends up infecting someone — why should society accept that? Or if she falls ill herself, she will be imposing a medical burden on the rest of the (members of) society — whose rules she rejects, presumably,” Mr Shanmugan said, adding that he found the situation to be “very odd”.

“Usually, in such cases, there will be more to it than meets the eye.”

The radical belief that one is a “ sovereign citizen” above the law — and gets to decide which rules to obey and which ones to ignore — has its roots in the United States in the 1970s and was largely influenced by white supremacist and anti-Semitic groups from the 1960s to 1980s.

It is not known whether the woman is part of a broader movement here.

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Covid-19 crime K Shanmugam police Shunfu Mart safe distancing sovereign

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