Singaporean who breached Covid-19 stay-home notice for bak kut teh: 'I thought it started the next day'

Mr Alan Tham said he knew he had to serve a 14-day stay-home notice after returning from a holiday, but thought it started only the day after touching down, so he went out for a bak kut teh dinner and to buy groceries. PHOTOS: SCREENGRAB FROM FACEBOOK, ST READER

SINGAPORE - He thought he had one last day of freedom before being holed up at home for two weeks to serve a stay-home notice.

But his craving for bak kut teh led to a minister issuing a stern warning in Parliament on Wednesday (March 25).

Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam warned that stern action will be taken against those who breach stay-home notices. He highlighted a post by one such culprit who had allegedly left home to eat bak kut teh.

Mr Shanmugam said: "I have asked for that case to be investigated. We are trying to verify some of these messages on stay-home notices being flouted, and if any member of the public has information about such behaviour, please give it to the police.

"We will follow up and we cannot allow such behaviour."

When contacted by The Straits Times, Mr Alan Tham, 33, said that he knew he had to serve a 14-day stay-home notice after returning on Monday from a three-day holiday to Myanmar, but he thought it started only the day after touching down.

Mr Tham, who works in the security industry, said this was what an airport official had told him.

After he landed at Changi Airport, he dropped his bags at home and went for dinner and to buy groceries.

He took a bus, wore a mask and was out for less than an hour.

Mr Tham, who is also a freelance photographer, posted on Facebook that same night about his return to Singapore and his bak kut teh meal. He drew flak from netizens for breaching stay-home notice conditions.

Since March 20, all travellers including Singapore residents entering the country have been issued 14-day stay-home notices.

In response to queries from The Straits Times about Mr Tham, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority said that they had investigated the matter and warned him not to breach the conditions of the notice again. It added that the SHN clearly states that it begins on the day a traveller returns.

People on SHN should remain in their place of residence at all times and are not allowed to have visitors. They should not go out even to purchase daily necessities. Anyone who breaches a stay-home notice faces a jail term of up to six months and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Since his Facebook post, Mr Tham said that he has received countless nasty messages slamming him for breaching the SHN. "I've been feeling very bothered by the messages," he said.

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