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S$5,000 fine for Singapore flat owner who hosted gathering of 18 during circuit breaker

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Leong Chee Mun was fined S$5,000 for co-hosting a gathering for 16 guests during the circuit breaker, when stay-home curbs were in force to control Covid-19’s spread. — TODAY pic
Leong Chee Mun was fined S$5,000 for co-hosting a gathering for 16 guests during the circuit breaker, when stay-home curbs were in force to control Covid-19’s spread. — TODAY pic

SINGAPORE, Sept 12 — A 37-year-old man who co-hosted an illegal social gathering with his ex-fiancee during the circuit breaker was fined S$5,000 (RM15,181.36) yesterday.

The circuit breaker from April 7 to June 1 curbed the movement of people and some business activities to control the spread of Covid-19.

Leong Chee Mun and Cassie Ong Shi Hong, 32, broke up after they and their 16 guests were caught in early May at their home at Compassvale Crescent in Sengkang.

Leong pleaded guilty to one charge under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Regulations 2020. Ong was fined S$4,000 last month.

Ten of their guests have received fines of between S$2,500 and S$3,000. The cases of the other six guests are still pending.

The court heard that Leong and Ong agreed to a suggestion made in a WhatsApp chat group to host a gathering at their flat on May 8.

The pair were then engaged and living together.

Two guests arrived as early as 6am for breakfast. The rest — who were either part of the WhatsApp group or came to know of the gathering through someone in it — started arriving from 9pm.

The last person arrived around 1.15am the next day.

The group, comprising individuals aged between 19 and 37, ate, drank alcohol, played games and watched Netflix programmes until the police arrived at about 2.30am.

Neighbour filed complaint

A policeman responded to a complaint made by a neighbour of Leong’s, who reported that “a lot of youngsters” were entering and leaving the flat next to hers. 

When the officer rang the doorbell to Leong’s unit, no one answered but he heard shushing noises from within.

Leong finally opened the door when the policeman continued knocking and rang the doorbell repeatedly.

He lied to the officer that he was sleeping and that there was no one else apart from him and Ong.

Leong admitted that there was a gathering only when the officer confronted him about the noise he heard.

Stressed from being jobless

Leong’s lawyer James Ch’ng said that Leong did not organise the event. 

The group had chosen his flat out of “mere convenience” and to avoid meeting in public.

Leong had been stressed out from being unemployed during the circuit breaker, and took on delivery jobs to support Ong and his child from a previous marriage. 

Ong’s lawyer said previously that Ong was not close to most of the guests, who were Leong’s immediate friends or their relatives. 

Mr Ch’ng said: “Ultimately, the accused had a lapse of judgment and regrets his actions. Even without the punishment of this court, he has, in a sense, already been punished (from their relationship breaking down).” 

In response, Deputy Public Prosecutor Lee Wei Liang said that Leong deserved a higher fine than Ong’s because he lied to the police.

District Judge Brenda Tan agreed that a higher fine was warranted.

For breaking a Covid-19 regulation, Leong could have been jailed up to six months or fined up to S$10,000, or received both punishments. — TODAY

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