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Three men fined, jailed after kayaking to Pulau Ubin to camp during COVID-19 circuit breaker

Three men fined, jailed after kayaking to Pulau Ubin to camp during COVID-19 circuit breaker

(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: Three men were fined and sentenced to four weeks in jail on Monday (Jun 15) for multiple offences after they kayaked from Pasir Ris Park to Pulau Ubin during the COVID-19 “circuit breaker” period. 

Zulman Mashonain and Rizani Sham Mohamed Hussin, both 38, were also fined S$1,500 each. 

They were handed a larger fine as they had fished in an area marked for conservation and caught several fish and prawns.

Mohamed Hafiz Mat Nadar, 36, was fined S$700. 

The prosecution said the three men were “highly culpable” as their reasons for breaching the regulation against social gatherings was “purely recreational” because they felt cooped up at home.

This was not an offence where some need was involved, such as buying food, and their reasons for breaching COVID-19 measures were "poor", the prosecution added.

“Their attitude is the opposite of the restraint exercised by the majority of Singapore citizens during this pandemic, who did not even meet family members to avoid community spread," the prosecution added.

“Even after their overnight stay, and even after being told to leave by (a National Parks Board officer), they stayed on in another part of Pulau Ubin to have their lunch. Even after finishing lunch, they continued to kayak to admire the sunset and fish for several hours."

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

Zulman rode a motorcycle to Pasir Ris Park while Rizani Sham hired a Grab car and fetched Mohamed Hafiz from his home before they headed to the park. 

All three brought along fishing rods, hammocks, food, water and other items.

Court documents stated that Zulman thought it was a good idea to “sweat it out” by kayaking, after having been home for one month.

Halfway through their journey, they made a pit stop at a nearby kelong to buy ice and beverages. They also intended to use the ice to maintain the freshness of the fish they caught at Pulau Ubin, court documents said.

They arrived at the Chek Jawa Wetlands area of Pulau Ubin at around 10pm.

In total, they started two fires at Chek Jawa without having the necessary permits. This was done in a forested area and close to a heritage tree which is among the oldest and tallest trees on the island.

The prosecution said their breach of social gathering regulations was “serious” as their gathering took place over 27 hours.

Although three people were involved in the gathering, the activity had exposed them to two Grab drivers as well as residents at the kelong.

Their plea of guilt should also not carry much weight given that their presence on Pulau Ubin was recorded on video, the prosecution said.

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Source: CNA/zl(gs)

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