SINGAPORE: A man stood as a guarantor for a friend to borrow money from a loan shark, but was concerned after the loan shark called him to say the debt had not been paid.
In order to settle the matter, the guarantor breached his stay-home notice to meet his friend, but wound up calling the police after they got into a fight, exposing his breach of COVID-19 laws.
Foo Ching Guan, 32, was jailed four weeks on Wednesday (May 20) after pleading guilty to one charge of breaching his stay-home notice.
He had returned to Singapore from Thailand on Mar 17 and was served a notice to stay home from Mar 17 to Mar 31.
He knew that he could not leave his home and acknowledged the notice by signing on it before heading home.
Four months before this, Foo had lent his NRIC to his friend Lee Quan Hui and stood as a guarantor for him, so that Lee could borrow S$1,000 from a loan shark.
According to Foo, the loan shark called him a week before Mar 28, asking him to settle the loan, as Lee had not paid the loan.
The loan shark gave Foo until 8pm on Mar 28 to pay up, and Foo told Lee about this. Lee said he would settle it, the court heard.
However, the loan shark called Foo again after the 8pm deadline on Mar 28, saying that the money had not been paid and threatened to harass Foo's family if the debt was not settled that day.
CONCERNED ABOUT HIS MOTHER, HE WENT TO LEE'S HOUSE
Foo was very concerned that this would alarm his mother, who had recently suffered a stroke, and he did not wish to aggravate her condition.
Foo told Lee about this latest development, and decided to visit Lee in person at 4am on Mar 29. He took a Grab car to Sengkang Central to look for his friend, and did not wear a mask.
The two got into a heated argument after meeting. According to Foo, Lee punched Foo's head, and Lee's father intervened.
They could not resolve the dispute, so Foo called the police at 5am saying: "I have problem a guy hitting me no need ambulance."
Half an hour after the police arrived, Foo admitted that he was actually on a 14-day stay-home notice, as he had recently returned from Thailand.
He took a cab home at 6am, after staying outside his home for about two hours without a mask on.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Lee Ti-Ting asked for at least seven weeks' jail, noting that Foo had "sustained contact" with the people he met.
"There was no reason to leave his house," she said. "There were other means available to him. He could've called Lee again, he could've asked family members or friends to approach Lee, he could've asked police."
Foo, who was unrepresented, said he chose the 4am timing so that it would be less crowded.
"I just went directly to his house, I didn't go anywhere else," he said. "The moneylender already sent someone to look at my house. They wanted to take action, so I had no choice but to approach Lee. My mother just had a stroke, I couldn't give her another blow, so I definitely had to go and settle it."
For breaching his stay-home notice under the Infectious Diseases (COVID-19 - Stay Orders) Regulations 2020, he could have been jailed for up to six months, fined up to S$10,000, or both.