SINGAPORE — A man who attended a party with 12 other individuals at actor Terence Cao's home during Phase 2 of Singapore's reopening was fined $3,000 on Tuesday (18 May).
Lance Lim, who was then unemployed, had attended the birthday party in Cao's condominium unit last October along with seven artistes: Shane Pow Xun Ping, 30; Sonia Nicola Chew, 30; Julie Tan Shaoyin, 29, Jeffrey Xu Mingjie, 32; Heng Tee Kok, 45; Dawn Yeoh, 34; and Jeremy Chan Ming Yuew, 29.
Lim had himself invited four guests to Cao's home, despite knowing that this would exceed the five-guest limit as there were already other guests present.
Lim, 50, pleaded guilty to the offence of gathering with 12 others not from the same household, a breach of COVID-19 measures during Phase 2, which began from 19 June last year. He was represented by Cory Wong and Josephus Tan of Invictus Law.
Tan asked for a fine of not more than $2,500 for Lim, with Tan highlighting that the incident was a "one-off, isolated incident" and out of character for Lim.
Eleven of the guests, including the seven artistes, have been fined $300 each in relation to the incident. The other four participants were sales manager Tan Jun Chuan, 30; marketing managers Debbie Li Shuyi, 33 and Eleanor Wang Chunwei, 34; and part-time model and actress Valnice Yek Jia Hui, 22,
Cao is set to plead guilty on 25 May.
Before 7pm on 2 October last year, Cao organised a social gathering involving himself, Lim, Pow, Xu, Heng and Chan to be held at his Daisy Road condominium on 2 October. This was intended to celebrate the birthdays of Cao, Pow and Xu. Lim invited Lu, Chew, Julie and Wang.
Lim also asked Wang to bring a birthday cake. Lim also knew that Yeoh would be at the unit later to attend the gathering, as Wang had invited her.
On the day, between 7pm and 8pm, Cao, Lim and Pow were having dinner at the unit. At about 8pm, Yek arrived at Pow's invitation and Cao allowed her to enter.
Pow and Yek had not known that more guests would be coming.
Before 9pm, Tan arrived by himself, to Cao's surprise, but Cao let him in. Tan had not known that more guests would be coming. By this point, there were four guests in Cao's house.
The others began arriving from then, with Wang and Yeoh reaching before 10pm, and Lu, Julie, and Heng arriving before 11pm. Before midnight, Chew, Xu and Chan arrived. None of the guests had known that there would be more than five guests.
By this point, there were 12 guests in the unit. Throughout the party, the participants chatted and ate with each other and did not have their masks on. They knew that it was against the law to gather with more than five guests present.
All 13 at the gathering held a birthday cake cutting ceremony and took group photos. Xu later posted one of the photos on his Instagram Stories page.
Yek, Tan, Wang, Yeoh, Heng and Chan left the unit by 1am the next day, leaving six behind. The remaining guests left by 4am.
Prosecution sought deterrent fine
Deputy Public Prosecutor Norman Yew sought a fine of at least $3,000, which he said reflected the seriousness of the offence and would deter like-minded offenders from placing their personal interest over the public's health.
Lim had been nonchalant towards the laws enacted to protect Singapore against the global COVID-19 pandemic, said Yew.
"His conduct belittles the tremendous efforts and sacrifices of the vast majority, who have, amongst many things, given up the pleasures of social interaction with family and friends for the public good to contain the spread of COVID-19," DPP Yew added.
In sentencing Lim, District Judge A Sangeetha said, "Tremendous effort and sacrifices have bene made by the vast majority of Singapore for the public good to contain the spread of COVID-19. Therefore it is crucial that individuals comply with these measures so that we as country can overcome the pandemic."
For flouting COVID-19 regulations, Lim could have been jailed up to six months and fined up to $10,000.
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