'Sovereign' woman in S'pore gets 2-week jail & S$2,000 fine for not wearing mask, public nuisance

For not wearing a mask without reasonable excuse, Kaur could have been jailed up to six months, fined up to S$10,000, or both.

Siti Hawa | May 09, 2021, 02:29 PM

Paramjeet Kaur, 41, who claimed she was a "sovereign" and refused to wear a mask in Shunfu Mart was sentenced to two weeks' jail and a fine of S$2,000 on May 7.

According to Channel News Asia, Kaur pleaded guilty to a charge each for public nuisance and for failing to wear a mask.

Five other charges were taken into consideration by District Judge Ronald Gwee during sentencing — three for breaching Covid-19 regulations, two for failing to report her change of home address, and one for refusing to sign her statement at a police station — reported The Straits Times.

The sentence was backdated so Kaur, who was remanded for two weeks at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), will not need to serve any more jail time.

She was not found to suffer from any mental disorders.

Claimed that she suffered from asthma

Channel News Asia reported that Kaur claimed to have suffered from asthma, and hence did not want to wear mask since it would affect her ability to breathe.

She had her mask below her nose throughout her time in court.

Kaur's lawyer also claimed that Kaur, was harassed by reporters and people online.

What happened on May 3, 2o20?

The incident that propelled Kaur into the limelight happened on May 3.

Kaur had visited a wet market at Block 320 Shunfu Road in the morning to buy groceries. She caught the attention of several people at the market because she was not wearing a mask.

CNA reported that there were seven witnesses in total, according to court documents.

A woman confronted Kaur, but the latter said that she did not need to wear a mask as she was not sick.

By 12:16pm, an argument and commotion had ensued as Kaur insisted on not wearing a mask. The police was called down.

In the midst of the argument, Kaur insisted that she's "sovereign".

In the clips that went viral, Kaur was heard saying:

"It means I have nothing to do with the police, it means I have no contract with the police. They have no say over me."

A man off-camera can be heard saying:

"This doesn't even make any sense. If you're a person in Singapore, you have to follow the rules of Singapore."

The incident drew widespread criticism and ridicule among the public in Singapore.

According to Deputy Public Prosecutor V Jesudevan, this behaviour caused annoyance to those present.

Prosecutor asked for jail and maximum fine

CNA reported that Jesudevan had asked for two weeks' jail for the mask offence and the maximum fine of S$2,000 for the public nuisance charge because Kaur was "an openly defiant person in the face of law enforcement being present and the glare of the public".

Kaur's defence lawyer Kertar Singh on the other hand, sought a fine, citing how Kaur had "a very difficult childhood" as her father left the family when she was young.

According to CNA, Kaur received her bachelor's degree in applied science in Canberra, Australia. She went on to take her master's degree there.

She worked as a physiotherapist in Australia before returning to Singapore in 2008. She had not been able to find a job here since her return.

For not wearing a mask without reasonable excuse, Kaur could have been jailed up to six months, fined up to S$10,000, or both.

For public nuisance, she could have been fined up to S$2,000.

Top photos via Marceino Tng on Facebook