'Sovereign' woman charged with breaking Covid-19 rules

Paramjeet Kaur made headlines on Sunday after videos emerged of her claiming to be a "sovereign" and not subject to laws, when confronted at Shunfu Mart near Upper Thomson Road. PHOTO: SARAH LEONG/FACEBOOK
Paramjeet Kaur made headlines on Sunday after videos emerged of her claiming to be a "sovereign" and not subject to laws, when confronted at Shunfu Mart near Upper Thomson Road. PHOTO: SARAH LEONG/FACEBOOK

A woman accused of not wearing a mask at Shunfu Mart near Upper Thomson Road amid the coronavirus outbreak was charged in the district court yesterday with one count of being a public nuisance and three counts of violating Covid-19 rules.

Paramjeet Kaur, 40, who made headlines on Sunday after videos emerged of her claiming to be a "sovereign" when confronted at the market, allegedly failed to wear a mask when she was outside her home, as required by law, on more than one occasion.

Kaur was accused of failing to wear a mask over her nose and mouth when she went to a food stall in Upper Thomson Road at around 9.20pm on April 30.

She is similarly accused of not wearing a mask when she went to Shunfu Mart at around 12.20pm on Sunday. That same day, Kaur is said to have caused annoyance to the public by shouting loudly and creating a scene at the market.

She also allegedly ate at a table in front of a stall at Shunfu Mart at around 9.30am on April 14, seven days after circuit breaker measures began. The measures include no dining at hawker centres.

Kaur was arrested on Monday. She is represented by lawyer Satwant Singh.

Appearing in court via video-link from the Central Police Division building with a mask across her chin, Kaur said: "I am a living woman and that is my only capacity in this matter. I extend my sovereign immunity to Satwant and I asked Satwant to represent me."

In videos circulating online, the Singaporean, who was born here, can be seen claiming to be a "sovereign" while in a heated argument with passers-by.

"It means I have nothing to do with the police, it means I have no contract with the police. They have no say over me," she says.

A man, who is off-screen, responds: "This doesn't even make any sense. If you're a person in Singapore, you have to follow the rules of Singapore."

But the woman replies: "That's the thing - I'm not a person, I'm 'we the people'."

 
 
 

Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam had commented on the incident on Monday, saying he checked what she might have meant by referring to herself as a "sovereign".

"There is a movement in the US, and adherents to that movement (broadly speaking) reject government, reject the police and any kind of authority," he wrote.

"Well and good. But then such people should not live within society - she should not expect any of the benefits that come from this system of governance, including her security, medical care, other benefits," he added.

A report by Chinese evening paper Lianhe Wanbao yesterday quoted a woman who identified herself as Kaur's mother, saying that Kaur is a physiotherapist who had lived in Australia for 20 years before returning last year.

 

Kaur will be remanded at the Institute of Mental Health and will be back in court on May 19.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 06, 2020, with the headline ''Sovereign' woman charged with breaking Covid-19 rules'. Print Edition | Subscribe