Healing the Divide’s Iris Koh tears up police statement, denied bail to spend Chinese New Year with family

The prosecution highlighted her pattern of uncooperative behaviour in the investigations.

Zi Shan Kow | January 31, 2022, 04:49 PM

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The founder of anti-vaccine group Healing the Divide Iris Koh has been denied bail for a second time.

Her bid to be released on bail before Chinese New Year was rejected on Jan. 31, reported Today.

Bail denied

Koh, together with doctor Jipson Quah and his assistant Thomas Chua Cheng Soon, were arrested on Jan. 21 for conspiracy to cheat and their alleged involvement in submitting false vaccination status to the Ministry of Health (MOH).

Koh's lawyer told CNA that it is Koh’s husband’s “sincere hope” to be able to spend Chinese New Year with her.

She had filed the application for a "temporary release" from remand and to reverse her no-bail condition on Friday, Jan. 28, that was set by the State Courts.

To "gain emotional strength"

Koh's defence counsel said she should be allowed to spend time with her loved ones to “gain emotional strength” in light of her medical conditions.

Koh had been admitted into Singapore General Hospital (SGH) for observation for her pre-existing thyroid condition after experiencing a fast heartbeat on Jan. 26.

Koh's lawyer said that "some rest and family support" can help her "better recover and further assist police in their investigations".

The lawyer further questioned how likely it was for evidence to be obtained during the Chinese New Year period, and said that there was “no evidence" she would tamper with evidence if she’s released on bail.

"Wholly devoid of merit"

According to Today, Justice Vincent Hoong ruled that her application for bail, or a temporary release from remand, was “wholly devoid of merit”.

He agreed with the prosecution that Koh's “efforts to frustrate and impede investigations” contributed to the need for remand, according to CNA, and said that she should be remanded further due to the complexity and urgency of the investigation.

He said that the High Court’s revisionary powers to set aside the district judge’s orders for no bail should be “sparingly exercised”.

The prosecution also noted that her “pattern of behaviour" indicates her "determination” not to cooperate with the police.

The prosecution also said that the argument that no progress would be made on the investigations during the Chinese New Year period was speculative.

Tore up a written statement

Deputy Public Prosecutor Jiang Ke-Yue told the court that Koh's conduct delayed investigations, reported CNA.

Koh refused to be referred to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) twice, despite complaining of anxiety and panic attacks the first time, and discomfort the second.

At the same time, she had “no issue” understanding the statement read out to her and signing the document, said Jiang.

On her fourth day on remand, Koh asked to lodge a police report against the investigation officer, a request which was granted.

The next day, Koh tore up a written statement printed for her to sign.

Remand to continue

On Jan. 28, while warded in Singapore General Hospital and served a charge, she shouted a vulgarity at the investigation officer, Jiang said.

Investigations have also “disclosed more offences”, and that her criminal conspiracy involved at least 20 patients.

"The evidence shows she’s not cooperating and she has some part to play in the current delay," Jiang said, pointing out that the other two men accused had been cooperating, and arrangements were being made for their release, Today reported.

Justice Hoong ruled that the remand order should stand.

"Based on the prosecution’s submissions concerning the complexity, necessity and urgency of the application, the district judge was wholly entitled to exercise her discretion to grant the said order for remand. I am also of the view that no grave and serious injustice has been occasioned to the applicant by the judge's order," he said, according to CNA.

No visitation rights

Despite her health conditions, Koh had been assessed “medically fit to be interviewed and thus fit for investigations”, according to CNA.

Her husband had requested to visit her in the hospital during her period of remand, but the judge had also denied Koh visitation rights.

Her co-accused, Quah and Chua, were offered bail on Monday morning in the State Courts.

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Top images by Matthias Ang and Iris Koh/Facebook.