A Singaporean man who breached a stay-home notice (SHN) and left his house to eat bak kut teh on 23 March has been sentenced to six weeks’ imprisonment on Thursday (23 April).
This marks the first case in which an individual is sentenced for exposing others to the risk of infection by breaching an SHN.
Alan Tham Xiang Sheng, 34, who pleaded guilty on 16 April to an offence under the Infectious Diseases Act, was sentenced to six weeks’ jail on 23 April for exposing others to the risk of infection by breaching his SHN.
District Judge Ong Hian Sun noted that although Mr Tham’s risk of transmission is low, his conduct in disregarding the SHN was “socially reprehensible”.
“A deterrent sentence of six weeks’ jail is warranted to send a clear and unequivocal message the accused and like-minded persons that it is incumbent on them to adhere strictly to the requirement of the SHN so as not to expose the public to danger of getting the dreaded COVID-19,” the judge said.
Mr Tham will begin serving his sentence on 30 April.
Background of Mr Tham’s case
Earlier on 23 March, Mr Tham returned to Singapore after travelling to Myanmar upon which he was issued with a 14-day SHN, which required him to stay home at all times beginning 23 March until 6 April.
Mr Tham, however, had gone to a few places after he was issued with the SHN.
At around 3.40pm on 23 March, he went to a food centre with his girlfriend in Terminal 3 at Changi Airport and visited a money changer at Peninsula Plaza in North Bridge Road.
The couple headed to Mr Tham’s residence at Woodlands at around 6.35pm before leaving the house again two hours later. They boarded a public bus to have bak kut teh at Kampung Admiralty Hawker Centre in Woodlands Drive 71 and later headed to a nearby FairPrice supermarket. Mr Tham returned to his home at around 10pm.
Mr Tham also posted photos of the bah kut teh on social media, in which he captioned “Come back to Singapore must eat our local food~”. The post has drawn flak by many of his Facebook friends due to him breaching the SHN.
Two days later, on 25 March, officers from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) conducted an enforcement check at Mr Tham’s residence where he admitted that he had breached the SHN.
On 16 April, Mr Tham had pleaded guilty to an offence under the Infectious Diseases Act. His lawyers, Josephus Tan and Cory Wong from Invictus Law Corporation, had sought for the maximum $10,000 fine or up to two weeks of imprisonment.
Meanwhile, the prosecution urged the court to sentence Mr Tham to a 10 to 12 weeks’ jail term to reflect the seriousness of the offence.
On 23 April, the judge sentenced Mr Tham a six weeks’ jail term for exposing others to the risk of infection by breaching his SHN, noting that he will begin serving his sentence on 30 April.
For breaching an SHN, offenders can be imprisoned for up to six months, or fined up to $10,000, or both.