Ang Chenrui, a student who returned from the United States last year, violated his 14-day stay-at-home notice by sneaking out of his designated hotel room twice, and was thus sentenced to five weeks of jail.
Congratulations, Mr Ang, you’ve just extended your mandatory isolation by five weeks.
Ang’s Initial Return to Singapore
Since 2016, Ang had been studying abroad in the US, and returned to Singapore in March 2021 to spend some time with his mother. In accordance with the infection control regulations for COVID-19, he also had to comply with a stay-at-home notice, which he did.
The following month, he departed from Singapore to return to the US, only to suffer from abdominal pains and having to seek medical attention whilst in transit at Narita Airport, Japan.
Subsequently, he took a flight back to Singapore.
When Ang returned to Singapore on 17 Apr 2021, he was issued another stay-at-home order, as mandated by the COVID protocols, until 1 May 2021.
The First Break Out
Ang was to serve the 14-day quarantine in JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach in Beach Road, where he was issued a key card that only allowed him to enter his room once.
On 20 April 2021, however, Ang left his room in the morning by unlocking a door to the emergency staircase, climbing all the way to the 16th storey, which was not being inhabited by any guests on quarantine orders.
Shortly thereafter, he took a lift to the lobby, leaving the hotel and taking an MRT train to Serangoon Station, before buying a cake to visit his mother’s flat.
Ang remained in his mother’s flat until the evening, and then he went out with his mother’s tenant—of whom he was friends with—to catch a movie at NEX mall.
According to the details of court hearings, neither Ang’s mother nor the tenant knew that Ang was under stay-at-home orders, since he had lied about being in Singapore the entire time in a rented room instead of returning to the US like he was supposed to.
After his day-out, Ang followed another guest to the 16th floor and used the emergency staircase again, only to find out that his room had been locked when he reached the sixth floor.
Left with no other recourse (besides breaking down the door), he went to the fifth floor and called for assistance from a hotel staff member, giving the excuse that he had been locked out of his room while disposing of his trash.
Adding on to his list of lies, Ang said that he chose to go to the fifth floor because the service phone on the sixth was broken.
Sir, I applaud your cunning, but unlike Prison Break, you never made it past the first episode.
The staff’s suspicions were immediately raised when he checked the sixth-floor service phone later because the phone was in working order. He alerted his colleagues to Ang’s strange behaviour, and lo and behold, the surveillance footage exposed Ang’s breakout.
The Second Break Out
Yes, there’s a second one, and might I say the ending is more ironic than the first?
On 24 April 2021, Ang telephoned the hotel’s front desk in the morning, asking to be taken to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH).
Given the seriousness of the request, the hotel complied and took him to the hospital. Ang proceeded to wander around the hospital for a few minutes before taking a private-hire car to his mother’s Serangoon flat.
He has clearly never watched any true crime shows, because he didn’t even bother to try for an alibi or arrange a fake appointment first.
But that’s beside the point.
His last break-out clearly hadn’t been bold enough for him, since he went shopping at Orchard Road with the same tenant and had dinner at a restaurant close to Farrer Park before returning to the flat.
Once more, a hotel staff member checked with IMH for Ang’s status, only to learn from the hospital that he had never registered for a consultation in the first place.
This time, there is no “three strikes and you’re out”.
The hotel manager contacted the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) about his offences.
The next day, ICA officers apprehended Ang at his mother’s flat, escorting him to IMH where he was to serve the remaining days of his stay-home notice.
See, he got to the final destination in the end.
On 22 October 2021, Ang was handed over to the court for breaching his stay-at-home isolation notices under the Infectious Diseases Act.
On 6 January 2022, the now 27-year-old-man pleaded guilty to two counts and was then sentenced to five weeks of jail.
Under the aforementioned Act, Ang could have been jailed for up to six months or fined up to S$10,000, or both.
Repeat offenders can be jailed for up to a year and fined up to $20,000.
The lighter sentence might have been in consideration of the fact that a mental assessment of Ang had shown that Ang had “a history of poor adjustment to stressors in his life”.
His lawyer, Michael Han, supplemented the example that Ang had not performed well during his GCE ‘A’ Level Examinations, and his parents had divorced in 2019.
Allegedly, his first 14-day isolation in Fairmont Singapore had been trying on his mind since the art décor was reminiscent to his father, who was an artist. The room was a constant reminder of his difficult relationship with his father and aggravated his anxious mental condition.
In light of those details, it comes as a lesser surprise that Ang balked at the notion of having a second 14-day isolation, especially when the isolations were just weeks apart from each other.
Not to mention, hotel cable TV doesn’t really have the best selection of channels to act as a good distraction, and there is only so long you can stare out of the window.
Alas, none of these can fully spare Ang Chenrui for his offences, when he had placed many at risk by violating his isolation orders.
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