SINGAPORE: During the COVID-19 "circuit breaker" period in 2020 when non-essential activities were banned, a man left his home to gamble with 10 other people in Chinatown.
Goh Hock Poo, 51, was fined S$5,500 for his offences on Tuesday (Aug 10).
In mitigation, he said he did not want to go for one of the outings as he was not feeling well, but went because his wife asked him to take her.
Goh pleaded guilty to three charges including gambling in a common gaming house and meeting 10 other individuals not from his household.
The court heard that police officers conducted a raid at Jun You Friendly Association at 54 Temple Street at about 9.40pm on May 8, 2020.
They found Goh in the unit with 10 co-accused persons. He was seated at a table with three others, using mahjong tiles to play "labi", a game of chance.
The 10 individuals with Goh were mostly men aged in their 50s, 60s or 70s, and one 72-year-old woman.
Despite being caught, Goh went back to the same location on Jun 4, 2020. Police officers raided the location again and found Goh inside with 10 other co-accused, comprising men in their 50s, 60s and 70s.
The prosecutor sought a fine of S$5,500, saying Goh has no related previous convictions.
Goh pleaded for leniency, asking for the lightest fine. "I'm just a Grab driver, times are bad," he said through a Mandarin interpreter.
The judge replied: "Why should I give you the lightest fine? Everyone comes and asks for a light fine. The question is why should I give you a light fine?"
"For the second COVID charge, I didn't want to go. I wasn't feeling well," Goh continued. "My wife asked me to bring her there that's why I was there."
He insisted he had only S$300 on him and repeatedly told the interpreter that was all he could pay. After some deliberation, the judge gave him some time to pay his fine in instalments by April 2022.
For gaming in a common gaming house, Goh could have been jailed up to six months, fined up to S$5,000, or both.
For each COVID-19 offence, he could have been jailed up to six months, fined up to S$10,000, or both.