Couple linked to anti-vaccine group investigated for instigating others to flood public hotlines, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Couple linked to anti-vaccine group investigated for instigating others to flood public hotlines

This article is more than 12 months old

A couple are under investigation for allegedly instigating others to call and overwhelm public hotlines, including those that help the public with Covid-19 issues.

The Straits Times understands that the two are Ms Iris Koh, 45, and Mr Raymond Ng, 48.

Ms Koh, a Singaporean, is the founder of a group called Healing The Divide, which claims to warn people about the dangers of vaccination. Mr Ng is understood to be her husband.

The police said on Thursday (Nov 25) that they received a report on Oct 18 alleging that the duo had incited more than 2,000 members in a Telegram group to overwhelm public hotlines.

The members were told to share their feedback on the stricter Covid-19 measures for unvaccinated people in public places with the Ministry of Health (MOH) Quality Service/Feedback hotline, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) hotline and the National Care Hotline, which offers counselling.

"The message purportedly claimed that the Government was seeking 'nationwide ground feedback on the new measures', and that the public should call in to the MOH hotline, the MSF hotline and the National Care Hotline, and demand that their feedback gets pushed up to the respective call centre managers," the police said in a statement.

The members were also encouraged to call the hotlines again the following day, to seek feedback on the calls they had made.

The police, in consultation with the Attorney-General's Chambers, are investigating Ms Koh and Mr Ng for an alleged offence of abetment by instigating people to obstruct public servants' duties.

Ms Koh, in a video sent to the Telegram group at around 12.50pm on Thursday, said that she refused to hand over her mobile phone to the police because she is "suing the government for crimes against humanity" and if they were to take any of her devices, they would be "obstructing justice".

The offence of obstructing public servants' duties carries a jail term of up to three months, a fine of up to $2,500, or both.

The offence of abetting the commission of such an offence by the public in general, or by any number of people exceeding 10, carries a jail term of up to five years, a fine, or both.

The police said they will not hesitate to take action against those who disrupt and overwhelm essential call centre operations or encourage others to do so.

They added: "These public hotlines are important channels for Singaporeans to seek help, and a surge in needless and malicious calls will lengthen waiting times and frustrate genuine callers.

"In some cases, such calls may also prevent those in need from receiving timely critical assistance."