SINGAPORE: Upset that she was unable to get a discounted Huawei phone for S$54 as advertised, a woman displayed rowdy behaviour and scolded the store manager before struggling with the police.
For her crimes, 54-year-old Ng Puay Chin was sentenced on Thursday (Oct 22) to two weeks' jail and a fine of S$1,000.
She pleaded guilty to one count each of using criminal force on a police officer and using insulting words on the Huawei store manager. Another three charges were taken into consideration.
The court heard that Huawei had advertised a promotion for the Huawei Y6 Pro 2019, which usually sold for S$198, to mark Singapore's 54th National Day in July 2019. It was available to Singapore citizens and permanent residents aged 50 and above.
Ng, who was unemployed at the time, turned up at the Huawei store at Jem shopping mall in Jurong, hoping to get a phone. There were hundreds of people queuing outside the store before it opened.
Only those issued tickets could buy the phone, with the rest asked to disperse.
When the store opened at 11am, Ng rushed in along with the crowd and called the store manager a liar and a scammer, demanding to be issued a phone.
She rallied those around her to be hostile towards the manager, who felt distressed and asked her to leave.
The police were called in to manage the crowd and attend to the dispute, but Ng refused to leave even when the shutters were closed to all except those with tickets.
When warned that she could be arrested, Ng raised her voice and said she was above 50 and was a woman, and that everyone was watching.
She hid under a table and continued rallying the crowd, and was highly uncooperative, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Grace Teo.
She put up a violent struggle and was eventually restrained, but continued to holler at passers-by that Huawei was a scammer.
Ms Teo pointed to the public disquiet caused, noting that Ng had "rallied members of the public to her side" and rallied "heightened emotions".
CONTRIBUTED TO CHAOS: PROSECUTOR
She contributed to the chaos of the moment, and appeared to be attributing blame to Huawei and to the police for taking Huawei's side, said Ms Teo.
"In the footage, she had asked police officers to get the phone for her. This is not the police's job," she said. "If everyone argued like her, the police would not be able to contain the situation."
She added that this was not a case of the police giving unambiguous advice to Ng, but is a case "of outright disobedience".
Defence lawyer Tan Hee Joek said his client, as a layman, was not sure if it was the police's job to help Huawei and was thinking that the police could intercede.
In response, District Judge Toh Han Li said the point was that only those given tickets to redeem the phone were allowed to stay, and Ng did not get one.
"There was another video footage where she was going around asking for tickets, so she knew she wasn't meant to be there, but she insisted on having a phone and she couldn't get a ticket and was unhappy about it," said the judge.
SHE WAS CONTINUALLY DEFIANT: JUDGE
He said that he was unable to agree with the defence that the offences were committed in "fear and panic", noting that Ng's attitude was "continually defiant" towards the police.
"Her verbal exchanges with the police lasted some 15 minutes, culminating with her moving to the bottom of a table in an attempt to frustrate efforts of police asking her to leave, failing which she would be arrested," said Judge Toh.
He added that Ng continued shouting "defiant words" while under the table, such as "all of you watch and help me" and "shame on you, record this down".
"It took three police officers to arrest her after she struggled," said the judge, adding that it is of "vital importance that the police are adequately protected in the enforcement of duties".
He said a fine as sought by the defence was not justified as there was "clear defiance" of authority, but noted that Ng has pleaded guilty and expressed regret for her behaviour.
Ng requested to speak and did so emotionally, saying: "Now I look at the video, I'm very ashamed of myself. I don't intend to hurt the police officer."
The judge granted her a deferment of her jail term to Nov 5.
For using criminal force on a public servant, she could have been jailed for up to four years, fined or both. For using insulting words, she could have been jailed for up to six months, fined up to S$5,000 or both.