'Not possible to have fair hearing': Woman without mask at MBS

Phoon Chiu Yoke, 53, seen leaving the State Courts without her mask on 24 May 2021. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)
Phoon Chiu Yoke, 53, seen leaving the State Courts on 24 May 2021. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — An ex-naval officer charged for not wearing a mask in numerous places returned to court again on Tuesday (15 June) claiming that it was not possible for her to have a fair hearing due to previous cases involving the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).

Phoon Chiu Yoke, who faces seven charges of not wearing her mask in various places and breaching her Stay-Home Notice, again asked District Judge (DJ) Janet Wang for her charges to be dropped.

The 53-year-old Singaporean was filmed in a confrontation with a safe-distancing ambassador (SDA) at Marina Bay Sands last month. The incident on 15 May was caught in a viral video showing Phoon demanding to see the SDA's badge. Phoon also removed her mask after leaving court on 24 May, when she was photographed and filmed by the media.

At her Tuesday hearing, the prosecution told the court that Phoon may face additional charges, including those from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.

Phoon, who represented herself, stated that she was an ex-naval officer who had a "number of incidents" when she was a "plaintiff" or "eyewitness" to many cases, and as such, it was "not possible" for her to have a fair hearing.

"I am not privy to discuss all these cases in court here without causing embarrassment or being prejudicial to the SAF and to the government of Singapore (so I) am applying for all these charges to be dropped," she said.

When probed on her cases with the SAF, Phoon repeated her allegations, adding, "Due to all these cases in the past, I should be granted immunity as a citizen." Phoon described the cases as "grave" and "very serious in nature".

DJ Wang then responded that her case with the SAF would not be relevant to her present charges, and that the court would not be cognisant of those charges.

In reply, Phoon said, "I beg to differ."

The judge then adjourned the case to 6 July, pending her additional charges and for Phoon to seek legal advice.

The maximum penalty for breaching COVID-19 measures is six months' jail and a fine of $10,000. Repeat offenders can be jailed for up to one year and fined up to $20,000.

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