SINGAPORE: Two teenagers involved in a bottle-drinking stunt at an NTUC FairPrice supermarket were charged on Thursday (Apr 9) with public nuisance with common intention.
Quek Xuan Zhi allegedly took a video of his friend, Nigel Pang Yew Ming, swigging from juice bottles at the supermarket at 2 Bukit Batok West Avenue 7 at 7.45pm on Feb 6 before returning them to the shelf.
They are accused of committing this act, by common intention, that caused annoyance to the public. They also allegedly filmed the acts and posted them on Instagram with the caption “how to spread Wuhan virus”.
The two 17-year-old boys were arrested on Wednesday after a police report was lodged over a viral video capturing the alleged acts. One of the pair had uploaded the video to his private Instagram account, but an acquaintance circulated it online.
The video was captioned “how to spread wuhan”, and showed a person believed to be Pang opening a juice bottle, drinking from it and returning it to the shelf.
In the clip, the person taking the video asks: “How you know it’s nice or not ah Nigel?”
“Try ah,” replies the other teen.
LAWYER ASKS FOR GAG ORDER
Quek’s lawyer Tan Hee Joek asked the judge to impose a gag order on his client’s identity, saying that a new proposed amendment to the law protects young offenders under 18.
“My client is 17 years old,” said Mr Tan. “The law has been amended recently to protect offenders below 18. The law has not come into force yet but I think given the high media attention, I’m inviting your honour to consider whether to protect his identity in the meantime, since he is just 17.”
The police prosecutor said he had no instructions that a gag order should be imposed, and suggested reviewing the matter subsequently.
However, Mr Tan said “there is no point” reviewing it later if the matter is reported in the news.
District Judge Adam Nakhoda said he took Mr Tan’s point, but that there were “public policies at play in this particular case”.
He asked for both sides to discuss it, and a different prosecutor returned shortly after to say that the prosecution was objecting to the gag order.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Timotheus Koh said: “There’s no legal basis for this application. In any case, I wonder what my learned friend intends to prevent publication of, given that news of (the incident) has already been out in the media.”
Mr Tan said his client’s name had not been previously reported, but the judge declined to grant a gag order.
The two teens will return to court on May 8. If convicted of public nuisance with common intention, the boys could be fined up to S$2,000.
The police said in a statement on Wednesday that the video “caused public alarm and concern”.
“The police will not tolerate any actions that stoke undue public alarm, especially during this period of heightened sensitivity,” they said.
This is the latest in a string of COVID-19-related chargings. On Tuesday, two men were charged with breaching stay-home notices – one in order to deliver newspapers and another to visit shops and eat bak kut teh.