'Badge Lady' returns to court to face fresh charges linked to Covid-19 pandemic

Phoon Chiu Yoke first made headlines when she was caught on video not wearing a mask at MBS on May 15 last year. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - A woman who was sentenced to 16 weeks' jail last year after she failed to wear a mask in public places, including at Marina Bay Sands (MBS), returned to a district court on Wednesday and was handed fresh charges linked to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Phoon Chiu Yoke, 55, whom netizens often refer to as  “Badge Lady”, is now accused of two offences under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act and one under the Infectious Diseases Act.

According to court documents, Phoon failed to wear a mask over her nose and mouth while she was walking along Mandarin Gallery in Orchard Road from 3.02pm to 3.04pm on March 6.

Wearing masks outdoors became optional only from March 29. 

She is also accused of committing a similar offence while walking past a nearby Victoria Secret outlet between 3.35pm and 3.37pm that day.

On March 31, she allegedly failed to turn up at the Singapore Tourism Board in Orchard Spring Lane as required by a health officer who was then conducting an investigation.

Details about this particular investigation were not disclosed in court documents.

When District Judge Lorraine Ho asked Phoon on Wednesday if she would be engaging a lawyer, she replied: “I will probably be self-represented.”

After the proceedings, Phoon applied to leave Singapore for a trip, including to Hong Kong and Xinjiang in China, later this month. Matters pertaining to this application will be heard again in court on Sept 12.

Meanwhile, her pre-trial conference will take place on Oct 14.

In last year's proceedings, the court heard that she joined the Republic of Singapore Navy in 1990 and held the rank of a major before she retired in 2002.

Phoon first made headlines when she was caught on video not wearing a mask at MBS on May 15 last year.

The clip, which went viral, showed her telling safe distancing ambassadors: "Who are you? Who are you representing? Where is your badge? Show me your badge."

Phoon left MBS without wearing a mask that afternoon.

She was hauled to court later that month and handed five charges under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act.

After she was charged last year over her earlier offences, Phoon walked out of the State Courts building, removed her mask in front of members of the media and smiled.

On June 25 last year, Phoon was out on bail when she again failed to wear a mask, this time at the Mandarin Orchard Singapore hotel. A security officer alerted the police to her antics.

A month later, she was charged over this incident. Her bail was revoked and she was taken into custody.

Phoon has since completed serving her earlier jail sentence.

First-time offenders who breach laws under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act can be jailed for up to six months and fined up to $10,000.

Repeat offenders can be jailed for up to a year and fined up to $20,000.

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