Anti-vaccine group founder apologises for asking followers to flood public hotlines

Screenshots showing Ms Iris Koh, founder of the Healing The Divide group, with Mr Raymond Ng, and the message reportedly sent by them. PHOTO: SINGAPORE INK

SINGAPORE - The founder of an anti-vaccine group that discourages people from getting Covid-19 jabs has apologised for having asked followers to flood public hotlines with calls.

In a Facebook post on Monday (Nov 29), Ms Iris Koh, founder of Telegram group Healing the Divide, said: "Asking people to flood the call centre for no genuine reason is definitely wrong."

She added: "I would like to seek everyone's understanding, and please forgive me if I did not handle this matter properly."

She said she had made the comment on Oct 11, ahead of the introduction of vaccination-differentiated safe management measures (VDS) that would see unvaccinated people unable to dine at hawker centres and coffee shops later that week.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) had said on Oct 9 that the use of VDS was a move to protect unvaccinated individuals in the community and to reduce the strain on the healthcare system.

On Monday, Ms Koh confirmed that she was assisting the police with investigations.

Last Thursday, the police said they were investigating a 48-year-old man and a 45-year-old woman 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 Koh, 45, and Mr Raymond Ng, 48.

The police said that messages sent by the couple had urged the public to call the MOH hotline, the Ministry of Social and Family Development hotline and the National Care Hotline, and also demand that their feedback be pushed up to the respective call centre managers.

The police said: "The members (of the group) were also encouraged to call the hotlines again the following day to seek feedback on the calls they had made."

If found guilty of obstructing public servants' duties, the couple can face 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.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.