Assistant of doctor linked to Healing the Divide group gets more serious charge, says he's 'just a middleman'
SINGAPORE: The assistant of a doctor linked to the Healing the Divide Group was on Friday (Jan 28) handed a more serious charge of conspiring to defraud the Ministry of Health (MOH) and remanded for another week.
Thomas Chua Cheng Soon, 40, told the court that he felt he did not "deserve" the charge, and that he was merely following instructions as a middleman.
Chua has been remanded since Jan 21 and is unrepresented.
He was originally charged with one count of conspiring with doctor Jipson Quah and patient Mehrajunnisha to cheat MOH, by stating on a national health portal that Mehrajunnisha had been vaccinated with Sinopharm, although he knew this to be false.
As a result, MOH issued a certificate of vaccination for Mehrajunnisha.
This charge is punishable by up to three years' jail, a fine, or both.
On Friday, Chua's charge was amended to a more serious one, mirroring Quah's new charge that was given to him on Tuesday.
Chua is now accused of conspiring with Quah and Mehrajunnisha to dishonestly make a false representation to MOH over the same Sinopharm vaccine.
The new charge is punishable by up to 20 years' jail, a fine, or both.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Samuel Yap on Friday morning asked for Chua to be further remanded. He said the police have updated that "the extent of the fraud perpetrated is quite significant", so Chua's attendance is necessary for the completion of investigations and the recovery of evidence.
When the judge asked Chua if he had anything to say from his place of remand, Chua said: "I believe I put down on statement saying that I beg for leniency."
"I don't think this conspiracy charges I should deserve it because the thing is - I just mainly follow instructions from Jipson to seek the offence. I'm just a middleman," he said.
He will return to court on Feb 4.
Iris Koh Shu Cii, the founder of Healing the Divide which has a known stance against COVID-19 vaccination, was originally set to appear in open court on Friday morning as well.
However, her case was switched at the last minute to be heard in the Court Crime Registry Chambers, which is not accessible by the public or media.