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Healing the Divide's Iris Koh given permission to leave Singapore for cancer treatment

Healing the Divide's Iris Koh given permission to leave Singapore for cancer treatment

Iris Koh (left), founder of Healing the Divide, and her husband Raymond Ng (right) at the State Courts on Jun 23, 2022. (Photo: TODAY/Raj Nadarajan)

SINGAPORE: The founder of Healing the Divide, a group with a known stance against vaccination, was on Thursday (Jun 23) given permission by a court to leave Singapore for cancer treatment in Malaysia.

Iris Koh Shu Cii, 46, has been allowed to travel to Melaka from Jun 24 to Jul 17 to undergo a consultation at Makhota Medical Centre for alternative treatment for thyroid cancer.

The court imposed additional leave jurisdiction conditions on Koh. She must put up an additional S$30,000 in bail, on top of her current S$20,000 bail. Upon her return, she must also provide supporting documents on the cancer treatment she received to the investigation officer handling her case.

Other usual leave jurisdiction conditions also apply, requiring Koh to provide her complete travel itinerary and details of her overseas address and contact number before departure. She must also remain contactable by the investigation officer.

Koh faces two charges. One is for conspiring with a doctor, Jipson Quah, to defraud the Ministry of Health (MOH) into believing people were vaccinated with the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine between July 2021 and January this year.

The other is for obstructing a police inspector by refusing to sign and tearing up a copy of her statement while in lock-up in January.

Koh had applied for permission to leave jurisdiction last week, and the matter was adjourned to Thursday for her to provide more information requested by the prosecution.

Koh's lawyer, Wee Pan Lee, previously told the court she had intended to travel from Jun 19 to Jul 22 to undergo a consultation at Makhota Medical Centre in Melaka and receive treatment at Aenon Health Care in Negeri Sembilan.

On Thursday, he updated the court that she would be travelling only to Melaka, and would return on the eve of her next court mention on Jul 18.

"The purpose of this travel is to seek a consultation for a second opinion with a view to alternative cancer treatment," said Mr Wee.

He said that since Koh's diagnosis, doctors in Singapore had advised her on only one course of treatment, which was the removal of her thyroid gland.

"My client is apprehensive about this treatment because she is trained in music, she is trained in singing and she is a trained vocal coach. Before her arrest, she earned her living as a choir conductor, as a singer in a choir and teaching singing and giving vocal coaching lessons," argued the lawyer.

"The fear is that this surgery, which is going to be performed very near the vocal chords, might affect her voice." 

He said that since Koh was told about alternative cancer treatments that did not require removal of her thyroid gland, she wished to try this "Plan B".

"This is not the forum to adjudge or assess whether Plan B is medically correct or wrong," he added.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Jiang Ke-yue said the prosecution was not objecting to Koh's application, but sought additional conditions for her to leave jurisdiction.

He said that the documents initially furnished for Koh's application last week were "inadequate" and "incomplete" and contained discrepancies.

He said the defence had since provided new information from the Singapore General Hospital "confirming her cancer diagnosis and the need for thyroid removal surgery urgently or as soon as possible".

Mr Jiang also noted that Koh's application had "narrowed" from her initial application to travel to two destinations - with supporting documents naming a third institute in Kuala Lumpur - to one destination in Melaka, and for a shorter duration.

But he argued that there were still gaps in information, such as no explanation of the link between the three institutes named in supporting documents, and the prosecution was therefore proposing the additional leave jurisdiction conditions.

The prosecutor had initially sought additional bail of S$40,000, but Mr Wee, Koh's lawyer, argued that this was "punishing" and proposed an additional S$20,000 that could be furnished by another bailor besides Koh's current bailor, her husband, Raymond Ng.

District Judge Ng Peng Hong granted Koh's application and the prosecution's request for the additional leave jurisdiction conditions, ordering that the additional bail of S$30,000 can be put up by another bailor.

If convicted of voluntarily obstructing a public servant in the discharge of their public functions, Koh could 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 could be jailed for up to 20 years, fined or both.

Source: CNA/ac


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