SINGAPORE — Bored, a youth decided to spit over the railing from the fourth floor of Bugis Junction Shopping Mall to see how his friends would react – weeks after Singapore’s disease outbreak level had been raised to orange.
At the basement of the mall, where Cai Jiaxu’s spittle would have landed, stood sandwich chain Subway, where six to seven patrons were seated.
His act was recorded by a friend, who lated shared the video in a group chat and posted it on her Instagram account, from where it was further circulated. It has since garnered more than 13,000 views on an Instagram page where it was later posted.
Cai, 18, pleaded guilty to one count of causing annoyance to the public on Wednesday (15 July). The prosecution had sought for a probation suitability report for him, citing his young age. Cai is a polytechnic student.
On 28 February, Cai and two friends, Gerald Chan Weiheng, 17, and Jolin Huang Rui Xian, 19, were at the fourth floor of the mall when Cai thought of spitting over the railing to the lower floors.
Singapore raised its Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) level to Orange from Yellow on 7 February in an effort to curb cases of the COVID-19 virus.
He felt bored and wanted to see how his friends would react, according to Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Gail Wong. Cai then told Chan about his idea twice, and asked him to hit his head to make the act look accidental.
Huang heard their conversation and took out her handphone to record the act. She egged Chan to slap Cai’s head, and told them she was recording the exchange.
When Cai looked looked over the railing, he saw that there were about six to seven patrons dining at the Subway restaurant at the basement of the mall.
Chan slapped the back of Cai’s head with his hand, and Cai then spat over the railing towards the direction of Subway. The trio left the mall shortly after.
Later that evening, Huang posted the video in a group chat with their friends, and both Huang and Chan posted the video on their Instagram accounts. Both deleted the video at about 10.30pm, but the video had been circulated by then.
While the mall did not receive complaints of spittle landing on diners or observations of spittle, the video was posted on Instagram account “xiaoypofsingapore” and attracted public concerns on hygiene and public health risks. The post, dated 1 March, was captioned “Idiots” and “Idiots Spitting inside mall when some people are having their meals below. Tag this ***king clowns”.
Two days after the video was posted, a representative of Bugis Junction lodged a police report over the concern that the spittle could have landed on diners on the lower floors.
By the time of Cai’s offence, the “Ministry of Health was already issuing daily advisories on the COVID-19 infection numbers and situation, with reminders to observe good personal hygiene, wear a mask and cover one’s mouth with a tissue paper when coughing or sneezing, to limit the spread of the disease”, said DPP Wong.
“In light of the COVID-19 situation, there is a need to send a deterrent message as his act posed a public health risk,” she added.
Cai, who was not represented, did not address the court, but submitted a letter in mitigation.
He will return to court on 26 August.
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