Coronavirus: Man who breached stay-home notice twice to buy food is 2nd person to get jail

Chong Chun Wah was given five weeks' jail. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A store packer who breached his stay-home notice (SHN) twice became the second person to receive a jail sentence over such an offence on Wednesday (May 6).

Singaporean Chong Chun Wah, 47, was given five weeks' jail after pleading guilty to an offence under the Infectious Diseases (Covid-19 - Stay Orders) Regulations 2020.

He was placed on an SHN on March 17 after a Batam trip, but was not in his flat when Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officers went there a week later.

He later told the officers he had stepped out to buy food at a coffee shop and they reminded him that he should adhere to the SHN amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Despite this, he left his Bukit Batok flat again on March 29 to buy food.

There were two other charges against Chong, including one under the Infectious Diseases Act, which were taken into consideration during sentencing.

Chong is the second person to receive a jail sentence after breaching an SHN.

Alan Tham Xiang Sheng, 34, was sentenced last month to six weeks' jail after breaching an SHN to have a bak kut teh meal on March 23, after he returned from a trip to Myanmar.

Tham had unlawfully gone to several places islandwide including Peninsula Plaza in North Bridge Road and Kampung Admiralty Hawker Centre in Woodlands Drive 71.

He had met his girlfriend at 3.40pm on March 23 before finally returning home at around 10pm that day.

Deputy Public Prosecutor V. Jesudevan said that Chong arrived at the Singapore Cruise Centre in HarbourFront from Batam at around 7pm on March 17.

He was then given an SHN and was supposed to remain home from then until March 31.

But he was not home when ICA officers conducted a check on him on March 24.

The DPP said: "The accused claimed that he had left to buy food from a coffee shop in the vicinity of Block 252 Jurong East, which is three to four bus stops away.

"The ICA officers then reminded the accused of the importance of adhering to the SHN, which he duly acknowledged."

The court heard that Chong left his home again at around 1pm just five days later.

This time, he went out to buy food at another coffee shop at Block 447 Bukit Batok West Avenue 9, about 140m away from his flat.

He went home about 45 minutes later.

On Wednesday, DPP Jesudevan urged the court to sentence Chong to at least seven weeks' jail, stressing that he is a recalcitrant offender.

The DPP added: "His purpose of heading out of his home to buy food is unreasonable, especially since he could have made alternative arrangements for it, or availed himself of having food delivered to him.

"It is necessary for the court to send a clear message to the public that breaches of SHNs will not be tolerated, and that severe punishments will be meted out. Such a message is urgently needed to deter irresponsible persons who are prepared to place the public's health at risk for their personal interests."

For breaching his SHN, Chong could have been jailed for up to six months and fined up to $10,000.

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