SINGAPORE: A 39-year-old man was found guilty of opening a karaoke lounge to customers during the first phase of Singapore’s post “circuit breaker” reopening, allowing them to sing and drink liquor despite restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19.
At the State Courts on Wednesday (Oct 7), Leow Keng Chun pleaded guilty to charges of opening a non-residential premises to others, as well as providing public entertainment and selling liquor without the relevant licences.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Stephanie Koh told the court that Leow was the occupier and operator of DRINKITUP, a karaoke establishment on the third floor of a building along Jalan Besar, located within a liquor control zone.
The court heard that on Jun 5 this year at about 11pm, police officers were conducting enforcement checks at the building when they found Leow, who admitted to them that there were others at the outlet on the third floor.
In the karaoke lounge, the police found five people - three Singaporean men, aged between 25 and 39, and two Vietnamese women, aged 19 and 24.
Investigations found that two of the men - Daryl Tan Siong Kit, 30, and Andrew Tay Jing An, 25 - were customers who had reserved a room in the lounge to sing and drink.
Leow had allowed them in at about 9.30pm via the back entrance of the building, which was shuttered.
The two men ordered beer towers costing S$100 each, which Leow served.
They then drank, played dice games, and sang with the two women, Le Quach Van Ly and Pham Thi Yen Ngoc, who were hostesses.
Leow did not enforce the wearing of masks on any of the four, or take any other precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, said Ms Koh, the prosecutor.
A fourth man, Low Hong Meng, 39, who was the main tenant of the building, was in another room at the time.
Investigations showed that Leow, as the occupier and operator of the outlet, paid monthly rent to Low.
Ms Koh said Leow was aware that he was not the licensee of the outlet, and did not possess a valid public entertainment licence or liquor licence to operate the karaoke lounge.
She added that despite being aware that the outlet was not allowed to operate due to COVID-19 restrictions, Leow had opened the establishment to anyone who made a reservation from Jun 2, when Singapore entered Phase 1 of its reopening.
Ms Koh noted Leow was aware that the karaoke lounge was not allowed to operate and had taken steps to avoid detection.
She pointed out that not only was the building shuttered and customers let in from a back entrance, the door to the outlet was also locked from the inside and police officers were forced to break a glass panel to unlock the door.
The prosecution sought a fine of S$13,000 for all three charges.
Leow however asked for the amount to be reduced, stating that he currently had no source of income.
Leow has not been sentenced and will return to court on Nov 5 for a further mention of his case.