Three men to plead guilty to kayaking to Pulau Ubin to camp during circuit breaker

Three men to plead guilty to kayaking to Pulau Ubin to camp during circuit breaker

Chek Jawa campers
(From left) Rizani Sham Mohamed Hussin, Zulman B Mashonain and Mohamed Hafiz Mat Nadar outside the State Courts on Monday (May 18, 2020). (Photo: TODAY/Nuria Ling)

SINGAPORE: During the "circuit breaker" period, when all were urged to stay home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, three men allegedly kayaked from Pasir Ris Park to Pulau Ubin where they hung up hammocks, fished and camped.

The three men were charged with multiple offences on Monday (May 18) and intend to plead guilty next month.

Rizani Sham Mohamed Hussin and Zulman B Mashonain, both 38, were given eight charges each under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act and Parks and Trees Regulations, while 36-year-old Mohamed Hafiz Mat Nadar received seven similar charges.

According to charge sheets, the three men left their respective homes in Buangkok and Tampines on the evening of Apr 13 to go kayaking, fishing and camping.

They are accused of meeting at Carpark E in Pasir Ris Park for a social purpose, an activity that breaches COVID-19 laws.

Sometime after 7pm, they entered Chek Jawa Wetlands Park Zone in Pulau Ubin on kayaks, charge sheets state. The area is designated as a "No Entry" zone and has been closed to all watercraft and people since October 2007 unless the National Parks Board gives prior approval.

While there, they allegedly hung hammocks across trees, set up shelter and lit campfires, all contraventions of the Parks and Trees Regulations.

Between 7pm on Apr 13 and 10am on Apr 14, the three men camped in the Chek Jawa Wetlands Park without permits in areas not designated for camping, court documents said.

Zulman and Rizani are also accused of using hunting devices in the form of fishing rods to catch fish at the park.

Rizani spoke on behalf of the three men and told the court that they intend to plead guilty to all the charges and asked for leniency.

"(I) was stopped by an NParks officer and told that fishing is not allowed, but we told him we are going to Pulau Ubin for the activities," he said. "Hence, he did not advise further. If he had done so, we would have cancelled the activities."

He added that they "did not see any signs" prohibiting such activities and that the NParks website had purportedly not stated so either.

For each charge under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 of leaving their homes without reasonable excuse and meeting individuals from other households for social purposes, the men can be jailed for up to six months, fined up to S$10,000, or both.

For each offence under the Parks and Trees Regulations, they can be fined up to S$2,000.

Zulman and Rizani face fines of up to S$5,000 for fishing at Chek Jawa.

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Source: CNA/ll(ac)