Healing The Divide's Iris Koh hospitalised as fraud charge upgraded, bail denied
SINGAPORE — The co-founder of controversial anti-vaxxer group Healing The Divide was admitted to Singapore General Hospital ahead of her court mention on Friday (28 January), where her charge was upgraded and bail was denied.
Clarence Lun, Koh's lawyer who appeared via a Zoom hearing for Koh's mention, confirmed that the 46-year-old is currently warded in Singapore General Hospital (SGH). According to Lun, Koh does not have COVID-19.
It is unclear when and why she was admitted. Koh had also been admitted into the Institute of Mental Health during her remand.
Lun, who is from Fervent Chambers, also told Yahoo News Singapore that his client had instructed him through her husband Raymond Ng to file an urgent appeal against the decision to keep her in remand. This was so that Koh could spend Chinese New Year with her family at home.
Koh, 46, now faces an amended charge of being party to a criminal conspiracy with doctor Jipson Quah, by agreeing with him to make false representations to the Ministry of Health (MOH) that unvaccinated persons had taken the Sinopharm vaccine.
This was allegedly for the unvaccinated persons to obtain Certificates of Vaccination against COVID-19. The offence, said to have been committed between July 2021 and January 2022, carries a jail term of up to 20 years, a fine or both.
She had initially been charged on 23 January with an offence of criminal conspiracy to cheat. She was remanded from then until her second mention on Friday.
Koh will be remanded upon her discharge from SGH and return to court on 4 February.
Alleged criminal conspiracy
Koh is said to have referred clients, believed to be members of anti-vaccination group Healing The Divide (HTD), to medical practitioner Quah. Koh allegedly suggested administering something in lieu of the vaccine to patients.
Quah, 33, and his assistant Thomas Chua Cheng Soon, 40, were also charged for submitting false information with the intention to induce the Ministry of Health to issue the Certificate of Vaccination against COVID-19.
Chua had his charge upgraded on Friday as well, after initially being handed one count of cheating when he was charged last Friday. Cheating is a bailable offence carrying a maximum jail term of three years.
He is now facing an amended charge similar to Quah's. This charge states that he dishonestly made a false representation to the MOH around 14 January in a conspiracy with Quah and Mehrajunnisha. It is unclear who Mehrajunnisha is.
The alleged false representation was that Mehrajunnisha had been vaccinated with the Sinopharm vaccine when she was not, in order for her to obtain a certificate of vaccination.
The offence is not bailable and if convicted, Chua would face a maximum jail term of 20 years, or fined, or both.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Samuel Yap applied for Chua to be remanded another week, as additional time is needed for "significant investigations". DPP Yap added, "We have been given some updates from the police that the extent (of) the fraud perpetrated is quite significant."
Chua, who was not represented, said in reply that did not object to being further remanded. However, he stressed that he was nothing more than a "middle man".
"I believe I put down on my statement that I plead for leniency and I don't think this conspiracy charges I deserve. The thing is I just mainly follow instructions from Jipson to seek the offence."
Chua will return to court on 4 February.
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