Healing the Divide's Iris Koh gets new charge of obstructing police by tearing up statement; offered bail
SINGAPORE: The founder of the Healing the Divide group was given a new charge on Friday (Feb 4) of obstructing a police inspector by refusing to sign and tearing up a copy of her statement while in lockup.
Iris Koh Shu Cii, 46, now faces two charges in total. Her other charge is for being party to a criminal conspiracy with doctor Jipson Quah to defraud the Ministry of Health (MOH) into believing people were vaccinated with the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine.
The Healing the Divide group has described COVID-19 vaccination as "medical coercion", while MOH said the group adopts an "anti-vaccination stance".
Koh, who has been remanded since Jan 23, was offered bail of S$20,000 as the prosecutor said she is no longer required to be in custody for investigations.
The judge issued certain conditions for Koh's bail. She must surrender to custody for investigations when required, attend court when required, and must not commit any offence when released on bail.
She also must not interfere with any witness or obstruct the course of justice. Koh is also not allowed to contact Quah, any co-accused or members of Healing the Divide whom she had already referred to the doctor.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Samuel Yap asked for the condition that Koh not contact any Healing the Divide group members who might be prosecution witnesses, but her lawyer flagged that this restriction "appears overly broad", as she might not know who the purported accomplices are.
He asked the prosecutor to name the potential witnesses, saying that there are more than 6,000 members in the group, but Mr Yap said he was unable to do so at this time as investigations are pending.
Mr Yap added that Koh would "know best" who she had referred to Dr Quah.
District Judge Ng Peng Hong said he would direct the prosecution to provide a list of witnesses who Koh should not contact, and the defence can get confirmation from the prosecution as to who is a witness and cannot be contacted.
Koh raised her hand at multiple points in the hearing. When allowed to speak, she said: "Hello, your honour, I wish to also state that because of the nature of this case, I mean, one of the defence is that, from my point of view, these vaccines are not safe ... so I will need to contact my members ... to gather evidence for our defence."
When she asked to speak again at a later juncture, Judge Ng told her that a lawyer usually speaks for their client, and that he had already extended a courtesy to her by letting her speak.
"If you keep on wanting to speak, what's the point of having a lawyer in court?" he asked.
She replied that her lawyer "doesn't know the full situation" as he did not have a chance yet to speak to her.
Koh is set to return to court on Mar 14. Her husband, as well as a handful of supporters, were present in court.
She is the last of her co-accused to be released on bail, after making an urgent application to the High Court to be allowed to do so on the eve of Chinese New Year.
Her application was dismissed, with the judge agreeing with the prosecution that it was precisely Koh’s efforts to “frustrate and impede the investigations” that contributed to the need for this further period of remand.
If convicted of voluntarily obstructing a public servant in the discharge of their public functions, she can be jailed for up to three months, fined up to S$2,500, or both.
If convicted of criminal conspiracy to make false representations, she can be jailed for up to 20 years, fined, or both.