8 people found at Arab Street club during circuit breaker fined

Wan Ting Koh
·Reporter
·3-min read
A group of people dancing
A group of people dancing (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — A group of eight who were caught in an Arab Street club during Singapore’s partial lockdown period were fined on Wednesday (16 December).

The eight – five men and three women – are Teo Guoshun, 34; Ang Kok Siang, 32; Whenn Tan, 25; Terence Chong Kaichen, 29; James Teng Chung Choon, 46; Zhang Min, 28; Per Li Min, 26; and Veronica Ong Xue Yu, 21.

Teo, who is the legal occupier of Club Playground, where the group was caught on 30 May, was fined $7,500 while the rest, except Zhang, were fined $3,000 each. Zhang was fined $2,800.

Two others involved in the same case – Lai Zhendong, 33, and Luo Wenchan, 34 – have yet to be dealt with.

Singapore entered a partial lockdown period, known as the circuit breaker period from 7 April to 1 June, in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19 infections. During this period, all individuals were not permitted to leave their homes apart from procuring essentials.

However, the accused persons met at the premises of Club Playground at 122 Arab Street to discuss business matters related to the club in the early hours of 30 May.

Each of the accused pleaded guilty on Wednesday to leaving their homes for a purpose that was not permitted under reg 4(3) of the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Regulations 2020, with one charge of meeting others not from the same household taken into consideration for sentencing.

Losses during circuit breaker period

Teo pleaded guilty to one additional charge of permitting the others into his premises.

Teo had arranged for the meeting with the other business partners and shareholders to discuss how to deal with the club’s losses during the circuit breaker period. Per, who was then unemployed and Teo’s girlfriend, agreed to go after Teo texted her about the meeting.

Teng had been the stage manager of the club since February, while Chong was looking to invest in the club. Ang and Tan were shareholders of the club.

Zhang Min, who is a work permit holder, was a singer and the girlfriend of Chong. Ong was Per’s friend and agreed to hang out at the club after receiving a call from Per.

A raid was conducted by the police to check for breach of safe distancing measures at around 12.08am. Upon arriving at the club, they heard music.

As the shutters at the club front were secured, officers entered via the back door and saw the club in operation with 13 people drinking, chatting and singing karaoke.

In mitigation, Teo said that club owners had experienced the “biggest impact” due to the pandemic.

“Until now, everybody behind we all lose money, we are not having any good income. Maybe we all can pay by instalments because hard time,” he said.

Zhang told the court that she had an operation on her head in 2018 following a traffic accident and asked to pay her fine in instalments.

Speaking through a Mandarin interpreter, Zhang said, “I did not commit the offence deliberately. I was ignorant. I had no television set at home. My neighbours told me that the circuit breaker had ended and I had seen hawkers in the street.” She asked if she will be able to stay in Singapore, and District Judge Ng Cheng Thiam said the decision was out of his hands.

For each breach of the COVID-19 regulations, a person may be jailed up to six months and/or fined up to $10,000 on a first conviction.

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