Duo under probe for instigating people to swamp hotlines

They allegedly told Telegram group to give feedback on rules for the unvaccinated

A couple are under investigation for allegedly instigating others to call and overwhelm public hotlines, including those that help the public with Covid-19 issues.

The Straits Times understands that the two are Ms Iris Koh, 45, and Mr Raymond Ng, 48.

Ms Koh, a Singaporean, is the founder of a group called Healing The Divide, which claims to warn people about the dangers of vaccination. Mr Ng is understood to be her husband.

The police said yesterday that they received a report on Oct 18 alleging that the duo had incited more than 2,000 members in a Telegram group to overwhelm public hotlines.

The members were told to share their feedback on the stricter Covid-19 measures for unvaccinated people in public places through the Ministry of Health (MOH) quality service/feedback hotline, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) hotline and the National Care Hotline, which offers counselling.

"The message purportedly claimed that the Government was seeking 'nationwide ground feedback on the new measures', and that the public should call in to the MOH hotline, the MSF hotline and the National Care Hotline, and demand that their feedback gets pushed up to the respective call centre managers," the police said in a statement.

The members were also encouraged to call the hotlines again the following day, to seek feedback on the calls they had made.

The police, in consultation with the Attorney-General's Chambers, are investigating Ms Koh and Mr Ng for an alleged offence of abetment by instigating people to obstruct public servants' duties.

Ms Koh, in a video sent to the Telegram group at around 12.50pm yesterday, said that she refused to hand over her mobile phone to the police because she is "suing the Government for crimes against humanity" and if they were to take any of her devices, they would be "obstructing justice".

Obstructing public servants' duties is punishable with a jail term of up to three months, a fine of up to $2,500, or both. Abetting the commission of such an offence by the public in general, or by any number of people exceeding 10, is punishable with a jail term of up to five years, a fine, or both.

The police said they will not hesitate to take action against those who disrupt and overwhelm essential call centre operations or encourage others to do so.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 26, 2021, with the headline 'Duo under probe for instigating people to swamp hotlines'. Subscribe