Singaporean gets four months jail for COVID-19 Facebook post

The Facebook post claimed the Singapore government was closing food courts and coffee shops, and supermarkets would only open two days a week. (Reuters)
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Updated 28 May 2020

Singaporean gets four months jail for COVID-19 Facebook post

  • Singapore has seen bouts of panic buying during a four-month battle with the virus
  • Offense of transmitting a false message in Singapore is punishable with a fine not exceeding $7,000 or imprisonment

SINGAPORE: Singapore jailed a taxi driver for four months on Wednesday over a Facebook post in which he falsely claimed food outlets would close and urged people to stock up due to impending COVID-19 restrictions.
Kenneth Lai Yong Hui, 40, deleted the message sent to a private Facebook group with around 7,500 members after 15 minutes, case records show, but the public prosecutor called for a sentence that would deter others.
Singapore, which has seen bouts of panic buying during a four-month battle with the virus, has imposed tough punishments on those who breach containment rules or spread misinformation as it tackles one of Asia’s highest COVID-19 rates.
“The psychological fight to allay fear and hysteria is just as important as the fight to contain the spread of COVID-19,” deputy public prosecutor Deborah Lee said in her sentencing submission, according to case records.
Lai, who represented himself and could not be reached for comment, was sentenced to four months’ jail on Wednesday, a spokesman for the State Courts said.
The offense of transmitting a false message in Singapore is punishable with a fine not exceeding $7,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or both.
Last month, a man who broke quarantine with 30 minutes remaining to buy a flatbread worth a few dollars was fined $1,000. Another man who breached an order to stay home to eat pork rib soup was jailed for six weeks.
According to case records, police received a complaint on April 20 about Lai’s post which said the government was closing food courts and coffee shops, and supermarkets would only open two days a week.
“Better go stock up your stuff for the next month or so,” the post said, on which people commented urging him not to spread such rumors.


Narendra Modi pledges to use India vaccine-production capacity to help ‘all humanity’

Updated 26 September 2020

Narendra Modi pledges to use India vaccine-production capacity to help ‘all humanity’

  • Modi said India was moving ahead with Phase 3 clinical trials
  • UN chief Antonio Guterres has been pushing for a “people’s vaccine” that is available and affordable everywhere

NEW YORK: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged at the United Nations on Saturday that his country’s vaccine production capacity would be made available globally to fight the COVID-19 crisis.
“As the largest vaccine-producing country of the world, I want to give one more assurance to the global community today,” Modi said in a pre-recorded speech to the UN General Assembly. “India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help all humanity in fighting this crisis.”
Modi said India was moving ahead with Phase 3 clinical trials — the large-scale trials considered the gold standard for determining safety and efficacy — and would help all countries enhance their cold chain and storage capacities for the delivery of vaccines.
Modi said in August that India was ready to mass produce COVID-19 vaccines when scientists gave the go-ahead.
UN chief Antonio Guterres has been pushing for a “people’s vaccine” that is available and affordable everywhere and expressed concern on Tuesday that some countries were “reportedly making side deals exclusively for their own populations.”
“Such ‘vaccinationalism’ is not only unfair, it is self-defeating. None of us is safe until all of us are safe. Everybody knows that,” he told the General Assembly
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told the General Assembly on Friday: “Whoever finds the vaccine must share it.”
“Some might see short- term advantage, or even profit,” Morrison said. “But I assure you to anyone who may think along those lines, humanity will have a very long memory and be a very, very severe judge.
“Australia’s pledge is clear: if we find the vaccine we will share it. That’s the pledge we all must make,” Morrison said.
Pope Francis told the United Nations on Friday that the poor and weakest members of society should get preferential treatment when a coronavirus vaccine is ready.
India, the world’s second most populous country after China, has recorded more than 5.8 million cases of COVID-19, second only behind the United States.
Its death toll as of this week was more than 90,000 and it has consistently reported the highest tally of daily cases anywhere in the world as a dense population and often rudimentary health care infrastructure hamper attempts to control the pandemic.