Man who presented himself as 'lawyer' of Benjamin Glynn claims trial, remanded for psychiatric evaluation
Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman, who is contesting charges for not wearing a mask in public, first appeared in court last year with British national Benjamin Glynn.
SINGAPORE: A man who had previously claimed to be an "ambassador at large and advocate of Kingdom Filipina Hacienda" claimed trial to two charges of failing to wear a mask while in public on Thursday (Oct 13).
But he was later ordered by the judge to be remanded for psychiatric evaluation after his evidence was found to be "incoherent".
Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman, 57, first appeared in court with British national Benjamin Glynn last year. Glynn, known for not wearing a mask in public, was jailed for six weeks after being convicted of failing to wear a mask, public nuisance and using threatening words towards a public servant in August last year after a one-day trial.
When Glynn was charged at the State Courts, Abdul Rashid, a Singaporean, had appeared as his lawyer but was turned away for inappropriate attire.
Abdul Rashid later said he did not have a licence to practise but was an "ambassador at large and advocate of Kingdom Filipina Hacienda".
He currently faces two charges for flouting COVID-19 regulations by failing to wear a mask inside and outside the State Courts on Jul 2 last year, and in East Coast Lagoon Food Village on Mar 19 last year.
On the first day of his trial, Abdul Rashid, who appeared in court unrepresented, alternately claimed that he had a heart condition and that the authorities who investigated him had no authority to do so as he was a "private, sovereign citizen".
Four prosecution witnesses, including an investigation officer and an auxiliary police officer, were called to testify.
The auxiliary police officer testified that on Mar 19 last year, Abdul Rashid was seen without his mask at East Coast Lagoon Food Village. The officer, Mr See Zhi Wei, said that he was deployed to the food centre after Abdul Rashid allegedly failed to wear his mask after several reminders.
Abdul Rashid had been seated at a table waiting for his food, according to Mr See.
In response to reminders, Adbul Rashid allegedly said the officer had "no right to intrude", recalled Mr See.
"He claimed that he was an ambassador of a Philippine country while he had political exemption.
"The subject reacted aggressively towards my SDA (Safe Distancing Ambassador) officer, and said, 'who are you, who are you'," Mr See testified.
After Abdul Rashid's food arrived, the officers observed him for around 20 minutes until he left, still without his mask on. Mr See then asked for Abdul Rashid's particulars, which the accused gave along with what appeared to be a foreign driving licence from a Philippines "kingdom".
An SDA who took the stand testified that he saw Abdul Rashid in front of a satay stall without his mask. Only after his third reminder from the SDA did Abdul Rashid allegedly wear his mask.
Abdul Rashid also presented what appeared to be diplomatic credentials and invoked his diplomatic status in a 14-page document.
Asked what this document was, the SDA replied: "Subsequently, I learnt that it was the constitution of (a) microstate based in southern Philippines." The SDA clarified that he understood this to be a small, unrecognised territory.
The accused also threatened the ambassadors with a lawsuit, according to the SDA.
In his cross examination of this SDA, Abdul Rashid claimed to have produced a letter with his health condition during the encounter.
"Why are you forcing me to put on the mask when I was sitting with family ... you approached me when we were sitting to continuously put on the mask.
"You know putting on mask from morning until evening makes us suffocated, why you force us to put on mask?" Abdul Rashid asked.
However, the SDA denied having seen such a letter, and that he only saw diplomatic credentials which were "later determined to be unrecognised".
Abdul Rashid replied: "The thing is we do not ask for recognition, just acknowledgment for our sovereign identification."
After the prosecution wrapped up its case, Senior District Judge Bala Reddy asked Abdul Rashid to enter his defence.
Abdul Rashid took the stand and proceeded to read out from documents, but was asked by the judge to clarify his defence.
The accused replied his defence was that he had a heart condition with a memo from the Changi General Hospital, prompting the judge to ask if he was "abandoning" what he previously said about being a sovereign citizen.
The judge noted that the two defences were "inconsistent".
"One is that the law does not apply because you are a private sovereign (citizen), if that is so, how does the medical memo become relevant?" asked the judge.
Less than half an hour into the defence, the judge called for a halt to the proceedings.
Addressing Deputy Public Prosecutor Timotheus Koh, the judge said: "I find it very difficult to follow the evidence ... given it's quite incoherent. I would like your assistance (in) how the court should proceed because now he comes to a stage where he says ... he (is) taking the rap for (another) person, it's best that his capacity to plead, fitness to plead be determined.
"It was not apparent at the beginning of the proceeding but now it's becoming clear to me that we may have to assess his fitness to plead."
The trial was then stood down for two hours. When it resumed, Deputy Public Prosecutor Koh told the court: "The accused has made certain comments which appear to be incoherent. In particular, he said a person named Abdul Rashid bin Abdul Rahman is a dead entity as we understand and the person in the dock is merely representing the dead person to speak in court.
"There are ... some concerns that he may not be able to follow proceedings and make his defence."
The prosecution applied for Abdul Rashid to be assessed by a medical professional.
Senior District Judge Reddy agreed and ordered that Abdul Rashid be remanded at the Institute of Mental Health for two weeks for psychiatric evaluation.
The judge adjourned the case to Oct 27.