Woman without mask at MBS gets new lawyer, denied bail again

Phoon Chiu Yoke, 53, seen leaving the State Courts on Monday (24 May). She is currently on trial for breaching COVID-19 regulations by not wearing a mask while at Newton Food Centre in May last year. (PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore/Dhany Osman)
Phoon Chiu Yoke, 53, seen leaving the State Courts on Monday (24 May). She is currently on trial for breaching COVID-19 regulations by not wearing a mask while at Newton Food Centre in May last year. (PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore/Dhany Osman)

SINGAPORE — The case of a woman who allegedly committed COVID-19 related offences at Marina Bay Sands (MBS) and other places was adjourned on Thursday (12 August) after she obtained a new lawyer.

Phoon Chiu Yoke, 54, who faces 22 charges, mostly for failing to wear her mask in public, appeared in the State Courts via videolink from remand. Her case was originally fixed for a plead guilty mention on Thursday.

The former naval officer applied for a second time to be released on bail through her new lawyer but her request was rejected by the judge.

Phoon, who donned a white shirt and had her mask under her nose, stayed silent throughout her hearing except to say that she had a new lawyer.

The lawyer, Amos Cai from Yuen Law LLC, told the court that he had been instructed by Phoon's family earlier this week and had scheduled a tele-interview with Phoon on Friday morning. He was able to speak to Phoon ahead of the case's mention for her to plead guilty on Thursday.

Asked by Deputy Public Prosecutor Jane Lim on Phoon's course of action, Cai replied that his client still intended to plead guilty. He asked for two to three weeks' adjournment to take instructions from Phoon, who still had queries about the prosecution's offer and sentencing position.

He had also been instructed by his client to seek another bail review, Cai told District Judge Carol Ling.

As part of the application, Cai told the court that Phoon had a list of past medical conditions, including a broken foot, dislocated ankle, a recently aggravated knee injury, spinal injury, and previous head concussions.

"I have tried to enquire from my client (about) a medical report... she informed me that some of them happened during her service in the (Singapore Armed Forces). SAF would have reports but I haven't had time to get these reports," said Cai.

He also clarified the circumstances of Phoon's bail being revoked on 24 July in relation to her latest alleged offence. This was concerning her purported failure to wear a mask while visiting Mandarin Orchard hotel at around 3pm on 25 June this year.

"My client is not disputing the incident on 25 June, but what she wishes to highlight is that after 25 June , she had attended in court on 6 July. At that mention on 6 July… bail was increased to $12,000. So it is her position that ever since that day, 6 July when bail was increased, that she has not re-offended or caused reasons for her bail to be revoked," said Cai.

"It was on 6 July that she understood the severity of the situation and the charges before her and hence she did not reoffend or offend since that day," he added.

DPP Lim, objected to bail being granted saying that the points had been stated before at the case's last mention on 4 August. Bail was also denied to Phoon then.

DPP Lim said that Phoon's medical conditions had already existed since she was remanded.

In relation to the defence's position that Phoon realised the severity of her offences on 6 July, the DPP said she had been charged much earlier and she was placed on bail with the specific condition that she followed COVID-19 regulations.

DJ Ling denied Phoon bail and fixed her case for a pre-trial conference on Friday.

Phoon first made headlines after a viral video of her circulated online, which shows her being questioned by a Safe Distancing Ambassador (SDA) for not wearing a mask while visiting the MBS mall on 15 May this year.

Subsequent investigations found that she had allegedly committed similar offences dating back to the middle of last year. She was charged on 25 May.

For each charge of contravening a COVID-19 control order, Phoon could face up to six months' jail, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. If convicted of being a repeat offender, she can face twice the jail time or fine.

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