Woman fined for hosting party during circuit breaker claims she had 'little choice' in decision to hold event

The Singapore State Courts. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)
The Singapore State Courts. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — A 32-year-old woman convicted for hosting an illegal party at her Compassvale Crescent residence during the circuit breaker period claimed she had “little choice” but to go along with fiancee’s decision to hold the event.

Cassie Ong Shi Hong, who was fined $4,000 on Wednesday (26 August), was the fiancee of Leong Chee Mun, 37, whom her lawyer said was the one who had initially agreed to host the gathering at their home on 8 May.

Given that the home belonged to Leong, Ong had “little choice” but to go along with his decision as she “simply could not say ‘No’ to him”, said lawyers Cory Wong, Marshall Lim and Josephus Tan of Invictus Law.

The couple are no longer engaged and Ong has since moved out of the unit.

Ong pleaded guilty to one count of permitting 16 other individuals to enter her residence to have dinner and drinks, in breach of the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Regulations 2020. One similar count, of meeting the same 16 individuals not living in the same residence for a non-essential purpose, was taken into consideration for her sentencing.

In relation to the case, 10 Singaporeans have been fined. These are: Felisa Chua Jia Xuan, 23; Poh Yang Ting, 21; Priscilia Tan Sze Hui, 32; Low Wei Hao, 25; Jackson Tan Chia Ho, 30; Nicman Lim Wei Fong, 25; Jasmin Tan Ee Lin, 30; Kho Zi Ting, 27; Peh Si Qin, 22; and Chee Min Hui, 27.

Jackson and Jasmin were fined $3,000, while the rest were each fined $2,500.

Leong, along with Moey Kai Yi, 18; Jasper Tan Zhi Hong, 25; Cavin Liow Jun Rong, 20; Chua Jie Kun, 29; Mandy Tan Yi Xing, 26 – all Singaporeans – and 19-year-old Singapore permanent resident Thant Thaw Kuang, have yet to be dealt with.

Merrymaking caught neighbour’s attention

Ong and Leong hosted their friends at their flat on 8 May after they agreed to a plan to have dinner and drinks at their place.

Jasmin and Jackson visited the flat from about 6am that day, while the 14 other guests began arriving from 9pm. During the gathering, the group ate and drank alcohol together while playing games and watching TV.

Their merrymaking caught the attention of a neighbour, who called the police at about 2am. The neighbour told the police that there “are still a lot of youngsters entering and leaving the unit”.

The complainant added that she had called the police numerous times as the couple had been holding gatherings almost every night.

A police officer was sent to the unit at about 2.28am and noticed multiple pairs of footwear outside the front door. He also heard people laughing and chatting inside the unit.

When the officer rang the doorbell, he heard the noises quiet down although no one answered the door. He continued ringing the doorbell and waited several minutes before Leong responded.

Leong, who said he was the owner of the unit, claimed that he had been sleeping and lied that he and his fiancee were the only ones present. He came clean only after the police officer said he had heard multiple voices from inside the home.

While Leong said there were only eight to 10 people in the flat, the officer found a total of 18.

Toxic relationship

Ong’s lawyer Wong sought a fine of no more than $3,000. He claimed that she had little decision-making power over who was invited to the couple’s home.

Wong told the court that Leong and Ong had been in a relationship for two years and that Ong had been dependent on Leong for finances because he was in a stable job while she was between childcare jobs. Ong has since lost her job due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

She had moved in with Leong with a view to settle down but began seeing his “true colours” after he proposed in June last year, said Wong. The relationship turned toxic as Ong had become conditioned to let Leong make decisions on her behalf, the lawyer said.

It was the aftermath of the party that triggered Ong into cutting off the relationship.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Lee Wei Liang said that a fine of at least $4,000 should be imposed on Ong, in part because the gathering had involved 18 persons, increasing the risk for COVID-19 to spread within the unit and in the community.

The gathering was also for a “frivolous and completely unnecessary purpose”, said Lee.

District Judge Ong Luan Tze said that she appreciated that Ong had been “under some emotional pressure” but that she still held the party in blatant disregard of the law.

She agreed with the prosecution that the gathering was “completely frivolous” and went on for many hours past midnight.

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