Doctor linked to Healing the Divide now accused of conspiring to defraud MOH over false vaccination data
SINGAPORE: A doctor linked to the Healing the Divide group on Tuesday (Jan 25) had his charge replaced with a more serious one of conspiring to defraud the Ministry of Health by submitting false vaccination data.
Jipson Quah, 33, was originally charged with one count of engaging in a conspiracy with his assistant, Thomas Chua Cheng Soon, and a patient named Mehrajunnisha to cheat MOH.
Quah allegedly said Mehrajunnisha was vaccinated with Sinopharm even though he knew this was false. As a result of the alleged deception, MOH issued a certificate of vaccination for Mehrajunnisha.
This charge drew a maximum of three years' jail, a fine, or both.
On Tuesday, Quah had his charge replaced with one of conspiring with Chua and Mehrajunnisha to make a false representation to MOH, which is punishable by up to 20 years' jail, a fine, or both.
Quah attended the hearing via video-link from his place of remand, with his hands in cuffs.
Two prosecutors were assigned to the case. Deputy Public Prosecutor Samuel Yap asked at first for Quah to be remanded for a further two weeks. He has been remanded since Jan 21.
When asked for his reason, Mr Yap said investigations are in process, and the offence in this particular case is "serious in nature".
"It essentially alleges that Quah, along with two other persons, conspired to defraud MOH by essentially falsely vaccinating certain patients and altering (MOH) records," he said.
"Preliminary investigations suggest that there are other patients involved, and there are voluminous records that need to be examined during investigations, therefore police require Quah to be kept in custody."
District Judge Terence Tay asked why custody is necessary, and Mr Yap replied that several elements of investigation require Quah's presence, such as access to his clinic's medical records.
"There is also some time urgency ... because there is public interest in ensuring that investigations are carried out quickly," said Mr Yap.
"Essentially, the outcome is - there may be persons walking around with vaccinated statuses but who have not in fact received vaccination, and these people will be allowed to enjoy the vaccination-differentiated measures, and therefore pose a risk to Singaporeans in this time."
Quah was represented by a team of Withers KhattarWong lawyers, led by Mr Shashi Nathan, who said they had written in for Quah to receive bail the moment they received instructions to defend him.
The defence received information just a day before that the charge was going to be amended to one where it was not bailable.
Mr Nathan said the court had several options before it, such as including conditions like daily reporting, putting Quah on electronic tagging and increasing bail to a significantly high amount.
Mr Nathan also said the police had already taken all the records from Quah's clinic the week before, so there was no issue of information being disseminated or records being destroyed.
The judge ordered Quah to be remanded for a week more in light of Omicron, the need to quickly verify vaccination statuses and the public health concern.
Quah will return for another court mention on Jan 31.
Iris Koh Shu Cii, the founder of the Healing the Divide, was charged with conspiracy to cheat on Sunday and remanded. She is set for another court mention on Friday.
Chua was charged alongside Quah on Friday and is also remanded. He is also set to return to court on Friday.