Jail for woman who sneezed on ION Orchard security guard during COVID-19 circuit breaker

Wan Ting Koh
·Senior Reporter
·3-min read
SINGAPORE - FEBRUARY 28, 2015: Day scene of ION Orchard shopping mall on 28 February 2015.ION is one of famous shopping malls in Singapore.
(PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — A woman who sneezed at a security guard at ION Orchard after being refused entry as she was not wearing a mask was jailed for 11 weeks on Thursday (10 September).

Sun Szu-Yen, 46, had been found unsuitable for a mandatory treatment order (MTO), a day reporting order (DRO) and a community service order (CSO) after her assessments. She was found not to be suffering from any mental disorder by a psychiatrist.

Sun, a Taiwanese in Singapore on a long-term pass, had earlier pleaded guilty in May to the charges but qualified the plea by stating that she had sneezed due to bad odour. Her plea was set aside then.

Sun pleaded guilty again to the same charges – one count of causing alarm to security guard Devika Rani Muthu Krishnan on 12 April, and a charge of throwing items out of the window of her condominium unit on 4 June last year.

On 12 April this year – five days after the circuit breaker period had come into effect – Sun approached the level five entrance of ION Orchard with her son, intending to enter. Both were not wearing a mask.

From that day, all individuals visiting shopping malls were required to wear masks or be denied entry as part of measures to combat the spread of COVID-19.

After Sun recorded her particulars and contact details on the form and had her temperature taken, she was reminded to wear a mask before entering the mall. However, Sun just used her scarf to wrap her mouth. When Devika refused her entry, Sun pulled another scarf out and indicated she wanted to use it as a mask.

When she was still denied entry, Sun deliberately sneezed in Devika’s direction and said “You get it? You get it already!” She then took out her passport from her bag and said, “I am China, I am Taiwan.”

Devika asked Sun to leave, and the latter took the form in a bid to cancel her particulars. When Devika tried to stop her, Sun told her to “shut up” and “do your work”. Sun and her son then left. The exchange was captured on CCTV.

Separately, Sun threw a model globe, a green plastic chair, a vacuum cleaner, a glass bottle, a few pencils and a white plastic dustbin down from the window of her condominium unit on 4 June last year. She did so out of frustration and stress. A security guard of the condominium heard the loud bang and his colleague told him that someone on the third level had thrown objects down.

The colleague asked Sun to calm down but she refused. The security guard then called the police.

Although District Judge Seah Chi-Ling called for an MTO, DRO, and CSO report for Sun, the woman was found unsuitable for all three community-based sentencing options citing a lack of family support for Sun.

Under an MTO, an offender will receive treatment for their mental condition in lieu of jail time. For a CSO, the offender will serve supervised community service for a period, and while under a DRO, an offender will have to report to a day reporting centre.

A community service order officer told the court that Sun was “not forthcoming” and reluctant to share information when asked during an interview conducted on 8 July. She presented the same demeanour when asked through a follow-up call on 14 July, and was “evasive and reluctant to give information when asked”.

In response, Sun said that the interview was conducted through video call and was unclear due to patchy Internet connection.

She said she had nothing to add when asked.

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