SINGAPORE: A woman who was caught without a face mask and getting into a heated argument with members of the public will be remanded at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) for psychiatric observation for two weeks.
Paramjeet Kaur, 40, was charged on Tuesday (May 5) with refusing to put on a mask and being a public nuisance. A charge of assaulting another woman who told her to put on a mask was dropped.
Her lawyer Satwant Singh, who said he was instructed by her mother to act on Kaur’s behalf, told the court he wanted to explain the law to his client face-to-face before she is remanded, as “she has her own rights”.
He then said that she wanted to address the court about her representation.
Kaur, who is facing four charges including three under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act, told the court over a video call: “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.”
However, the prosecution asked that Kaur be remanded immediately to facilitate investigations.
In response, Kaur said: "No, no."
The case was put on hold as court documents were circulated.
When court resumed about 20 minutes later, Mr Singh said he needed time to see his client and explain to her what her perception of a sovereign is, what the law is and the charges she is facing “before the prosecution insists on sending her to IMH”.
KAUR HAS NO MEDICAL HISTORY WITH IMH: DEFENCE
The lawyer said he had read the investigation officer’s report, which stated Kaur had asked to be referred to as “thou”, “thy”, “thee” and “sovereign”.
The report also said witnesses had called her “crazy”.
But these were “not good enough” reasons to have Kaur remanded, Mr Singh said, adding that she has no medical history with IMH.
Kaur also said court officials did not check whether she was “sane enough” when the charges were read to her.
The prosecutor argued that Kaur had to be put under observation to check if she is fit to plea.
“This will be advantageous to her,” the prosecutor said, adding that just because she has no medical history does not mean she does not have an underlying condition.
District Judge Clement Tan agreed with the prosecution, saying that the court should first be satisfied that Kaur is fit before proceeding.
“I disagree that there is any prejudice against the accused,” he said.
In online videos of the incident, Kaur, dressed in a purple tank top and without a mask, is seen arguing with a member of the public. In another clip, she is heard telling others: "I'm a sovereign, I'm a sovereign."
She was arrested on Monday evening after the police said they were investigating the Singaporean woman for not wearing a mask and for allegedly assaulting a 47-year-old woman who told her to put on a mask.
This was not the first time Kaur had flouted safe distancing measures.
In April, she was fined by the National Environment Agency after she breached the 1m safe distancing rule while purchasing food at a hawker centre at Block 320 Shunfu Road.
She was advised by SG Clean Ambassadors to practise safe distancing but she proceeded to sit at a table and eat the food she bought.
When she was asked to leave, Kaur refused to comply and challenged the ambassadors and took photographs and videos of them. The police were called but she remained uncooperative and began to film the officers with her phone.
Kaur will return to court on May 19 at 9am.
Under the COVID-19 Act, Kaur could be jailed up to six months and fined up to S$10,000 for each charge. She also faces a fine of up to S$2,000 for being a public nuisance.