SINGAPORE: A woman who faces multiple charges for allegedly failing to wear a mask in public had a second bail request denied in court on Thursday (Aug 12).
Phoon Chiu Yoke, 54, who appeared via video-link, was represented by lawyer Amos Cai. He was engaged by her family earlier this week, the court heard.
Phoon faces 22 charges, mostly for failing to wear a mask in public over a period of a year from mid-2020.
The latest in her string of alleged offences was not wearing a mask at Mandarin Orchard on Jun 25, when she was on bail for multiple similar charges. She was handed a charge a month later and remanded when her S$12,000 bail was revoked.
Phoon last appeared in court via video-link on Aug 4 to request bail, which was denied. On Thursday, Mr Cai also requested bail for his client, saying that she had not reoffended since Jun 25.
He added that it was only when she appeared in court on Jul 6 – the day her bail amount was increased to S$12,000 – that she understood the situation.
"It was on Jul 6 that she understood the severity of the situation and the charges before her," he said.
Her latest request for bail on Thursday was rejected.
The court heard that Phoon intends to plead guilty to her charges. Her case is fixed for a pre-trial conference hearing on Friday, after an interview with her lawyer.
Mr Cai requested an adjournment of two to three weeks, citing the time it would take for him to confirm Phoon's position.
"I understand that she has several queries on the prosecution's offer and sentencing position," he said.
Phoon was first charged in December last year after she allegedly failed to wear a mask over her nose and mouth at Newton hawker centre on May 8, 2020, during the "circuit breaker" period.
This was followed by similar offences at places such as outside the State Courts, Marina Bay Sands and Clarke Quay Central. A video of her exchange with a safe-distancing officer while unmasked at Marina Bay Sands was widely circulated online.
During a previous court hearing, Phoon urged the prosecution to drop charges against her over procedural errors, claiming that she was an “ex-naval officer of professional standing”.
She was remanded at the Institute of Mental Health for two weeks for a psychiatric assessment but details of her report were not given in open court.
For each charge of contravening a COVID-19 control order, she can be jailed for up to six months, fined up to S$10,000, or both, if convicted.
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