SINGAPORE — The Singaporean woman who called herself a "sovereign" was hauled to court on Tuesday (5 May) after repeated refusals to wear a mask in a market.
Paramjeet Kaur, 40, was charged with one count each of eating outside her residence and being a public nuisance, as well as two counts of failing to wear a mask over her nose and mouth at all times while in public on separate occasions.
She appeared in court via video link dressed in black, and wearing a mask that partially covered her mouth but not her nose. She was represented by lawyer Satwant Singh, who said that he was instructed by her mother to act for her. Her mother told Yahoo News Singapore after the hearing that her daughter – who was born in Singapore – works as a physiotherapist for a studio.
Addressing the court from the central police division headquarters, Paramjeet said, “I would just like to say something. I am a living woman and that is my only capacity in this matter, I extend my sovereign immunity to Satwant and I asked Satwant to represent me.”
A police prosecutor called for Paramjeet to be remanded at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) for psychiatric observation. According to the investigation officer’s report, she does not have any known medical history with IMH.
Satwant then requested to meet his client and explain the law to her before she is remanded at IMH.
“If you look at the (investigation officer’s) report, it said the reason why she is to be remanded is that she said, ‘I am not a person and I’m not ‘your’, I want to be referred to as ‘thou’, ‘thy’ or ‘thee’. I think this is not good enough reason to remand her for further investigation,” he said.
“Several witnesses felt that the accused is crazy, that is their opinion. Just because she said certain things, it does not make her crazy, What I’m seeking is to speak to the client to explain to her about the charges.”
However, he was told by the prosecutor that time can be granted for him to meet Paramjeet after she completes her stint at IMH in two weeks.
District Judge Clement Tan ordered that Paramjeet be remanded at IMH for two weeks, stating that the IO had interacted with her and concluded that she posed harm to herself and others. The court wanted to be satisfied with the accused’s mental state, said the judge.
Paramjeet’s next hearing has been fixed for 19 May.
Viral video on social media
Paramjeet was charged for eating outside her residence without reasonable excuse on 14 April at about 9.25am at Shunfu Mart & Hawker Centre. This was during the circuit breaker period.
On 30 April, she is said to have failed to wear a mask over her nose and mouth at a food stall located at Upper Thomson Road at about 9.17pm.
She is accused of failing to wear a mask over her nose and mouth again on 3 May at about 12.16pm, at Shunfu Mart & Hawker Centre. She then allegedly created a ruckus by shouting loudly on the same occasion, causing annoyance to the public at the market.
In a video that went viral on social media in the last few days, Paramjeet – who returned to Singapore last year after living in Australia for about 20 years, according to Lianhe Wanbao – and a man can be seen holding onto a phone.
She then argues with a person off-screen, claiming, “I am a sovereign. This is something people are not going to know even what it is…It means I have nothing to do with the police…They have no say.”
A voice can be heard saying, “That does not even make any sense. If you are a person in Singapore, you have to follow the rules in Singapore.” Paramjeet then replied, “I’m not a person.”
This was not the first time the woman had caught the public eye.
Last month, she was seen in another viral online video confronting and filming police officers and SG Clean ambassadors after allegedly breaching safe distancing measures, also at Shunfu hawker centre. The National Environment Agency had said after the incident that she would be fined $300.
Law Minister’s comments on Facebook
Paramjeet’s court appearance comes a day after Law Minister K Shanmugam commented on Facebook that hers was an “odd case”.
According to the minister, the term “sovereign” referred to a movement in the US where adherents reject government, the police and any kind of authority.
Shanmugam noted that the woman should not live within society she rejects and expect any benefits that come from its system of governance, including her security and medical care.
The police said in a release on Monday that it arrested Paramjeet at about 9.10pm that day.
If convicted of each circuit breaker regulation breach, Paramjeet faces a jail term of up to six months and a maximum fine of $10,000.
If convicted of being a public nuisance, she may be fined up to $2,000.
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