3 weeks' jail for man who forged Covid-19 vaccination certificate to dine in restaurant

Chinese national Zhang Shaopeng and his companions managed to enter Tanuki Raw at Orchard Central after Zhang showed the staff his forged certificate. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Using an application on his smartphone, a man edited a copy of his colleague's Covid-19 vaccination certificate, replacing the name with his own.

Zhang Shaopeng, 30, a Chinese national, later used the forged document to dine with his friends at Tanuki Raw bar and restaurant at Orchard Central.

But staff spotted that the document shown was forged and chased the group out before making a police report.

On Wednesday (Sept 29), Zhang was jailed for three weeks after he pleaded guilty to forgery.

He is the first person here to be convicted of forging a Covid-19 vaccination certificate to dine in at eateries.

Zhang had intended to attend an exhibition in the United States, along with his colleagues, Mr Cheng Lin, 32, and Ms Chen Shuwei, 25, both also Chinese nationals.

As entry into the US was restricted for foreign nationals who had been in China 14 days prior to entry, the trio decided to travel to Singapore and stay for more than 14 days before going to the US.

Mr Cheng arrived in Singapore on Aug 19, while Ms Chen arrived on Aug 22. Zhang arrived only on Aug 27.

All three tested negative for the virus and were quarantined.

On Aug 25, prior to Zhang's arrival, his two colleagues went to Raffles Medical Group to validate their Covid-19 vaccination status.

They were given a doctor's memo certifying it. They later told Zhang that he, too, could get his vaccination status certified by visiting a doctor and doing a blood test.

Instead, Zhang asked Mr Cheng to send him a photo of the memo.

Zhang then edited the photo using an app on his phone, replacing Mr Cheng's name with his own.

On Sept 1, Zhang checked out of his hotel because it was too expensive for him, and his colleagues helped him move his luggage.

He then offered to buy them a meal and the trio went to Orchard Central.

They managed to enter Tanuki Raw at about 1pm, with Zhang showing the staff his forged certificate.

But after the staff sent photos of the trio's documents to the management, they soon realised that the identity card numbers on Zhang's and Mr Cheng's certificates were identical and confronted the group.

The trio were chased out at about 1.45pm and a police report was made.

Zhang was arrested on Sept 14.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ng Jun Chong urged the court to jail Zhang for three to four weeks, saying the court needed to send a clear signal that such conduct will be met with certain and serious punishment.

Zhang's lawyer, Mr Cory Wong from Invictus Law, asked the court for a high fine or a jail term of not more than two weeks.

He said Zhang was fully vaccinated, having received the Sinovac jab, and made a foolish mistake.

For forgery, Zhang could have been jailed for up to four years and fined.

His sentence was backdated to Sept 14.

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