SINGAPORE, Aug 24 — Despite being arrested for hosting two large parties in an industrial building over two weekends, Joel Ang Yun Nan broke Covid-19 safe-distancing regulations again several months later by organising another large gathering.
By then, new restrictions had just taken effect after a spike in locally transmitted coronavirus infections.
Yesterday, the 25-year-old was jailed two weeks and fined S$15,500.
He has to serve about two more months behind bars if he cannot pay the fine.
The Singaporean pleaded guilty to two charges each of exceeding the maximum group size for gatherings and providing public entertainment without a licence or exemption.
The first party that Ang hosted on Jan 8 for his birthday involved 40 people.
At the time, only eight people were allowed to gather in public for social purposes under Phase Three of Singapore’s reopening after a partial lockdown last year.
The court heard that Ang and another man Kenneth Chua Wei Lun had decided in December last year to host parties at a unit in the Midview City building in Sin Ming.
The unit was rented by Music Production Studio, of which Ang was an authorised representative.
The duo jointly decided on what sound equipment and furniture to buy for the unit, and agreed to split the profits from selling liquor there.
Chua funded the venture while Ang took charge of its daily operations.
Ang did not charge patrons an entry fee but sold alcohol, with customers paying in cash or through the DBS PayNow electronic payment platform.
He advertised his business by sending messages to his friends, who would spread the word to their social circles.
Chua was fined S$15,500 in May.
Before the Jan 8 party, Ang had opened the unit for gatherings on several occasions.
To dispel suspicions that he was running an illegal entertainment venue, he lied to police officers that none of the attendees were charged for alcohol, and that he was the host and paid for them.
On the evening of his birthday party on Jan 8, the building’s security team told its operations manager about music playing and people entering and leaving the unit.
The manager called the police after he checked the unit around midnight and noticed that it was locked but found people waiting around it.
Around 3.10am, police officers searched the unit and found 40 people aged between 17 and 32, including Chua and Ang.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Yeow Xuan said that Ang failed to roll out SafeEntry check-ins or temperature screenings for the guests, many of whom stayed for almost five hours.
Guests had also been served alcohol after 10.30pm. Establishments that hold liquor licences are barred from serving alcohol past that time.
Chua, Ang and Music Production Studio did not have a liquor licence.
While Ang was being investigated for this breach, he proceeded to host another party at the same place the following weekend with 12 others.
On Jan 17 around 3.30am, police officers checked the unit again.
This time, they discovered seven men and six women between the ages of 19 and 36 drinking alcohol and chatting there, with music blaring from the speakers. Ang was among them.
He was arrested and released on bail after being charged in court.
About four months later, and soon before he was set to plead guilty to his earlier offences, he approached a friend to organise another gathering for his friends to “chill” and drink at the Ho Tat Song Building in Jalan Besar.
After 12am on May 17, police officers patrolling the area checked the premises and discovered the group drinking and singing without face masks.
The authorities also found at least seven bottles of liquor, seven speakers, one karaoke display and four microphones.
People were allowed to gather only in groups of up to two at that time, under tightened restrictions that had taken effect the day before to curb the spread of Covid-19.
At least one other attendee Jayden Ang Jin Jie, 20, has pleaded guilty and is set to be sentenced on Thursday.
Those convicted of breaking Covid-19 laws could be jailed for up to six months or fined up to S$10,000, or given both penalties.
Repeat offenders could receive a jail term of up to a year or a fine of up to S$20,000, or both.
For providing public entertainment without a licence, Ang could have been fined up to S$20,000. — TODAY