Woman who refused to wear mask arrested for assault
During argument with others, she claimed to be a 'sovereign' who does not need to follow the rules
A woman who claimed to be a "sovereign" was arrested last night for breaching safe distancing measures, causing public nuisance and assaulting another woman who had told her to put on a mask.
The 40-year-old Singaporean, who was captured on video arguing with people and refusing to comply with the measures, is expected to be charged today.
The incident happened at around noon on Sunday at Shunfu Market, where she was reportedly seen frequently.
Videos of the incident show her trying to cover her face from cameras while arguing with others at a walkway.
As she clutches a mobile phone belonging to the 47-year-old woman she allegedly assaulted, she can be heard saying: "I am a sovereign. See, this is something people are not going to know even what it is.
"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."
People not seen in the video can be heard expressing bewilderment at her claims.
A man says: "This doesn't even make any sense. If you're a person in Singapore, you have to follow the rules of Singapore."
The woman replies: "That's the thing - I'm not a person, I'm 'we the people'."
A police spokesman said this is not the first time the woman has breached safe distancing measures, and they take a serious view on such abusive and irresponsible behaviour.
"We urge the public to take the circuit breaker measures seriously and comply with the safe distancing measures," he said.
Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam posted on Facebook yesterday that the woman refused to wear a mask in a market a few days ago, and is being investigated for both incidents.
Commenting on her claims of being a "sovereign", he said that it was odd, and such people should not live within society and expect any benefits from it.
"There is a movement in the US, and adherents to that movement, (broadly speaking) reject government, reject the police and any kind of authority," Mr Shanmugam added.
"If she doesn't follow the rules and (say) ends up infecting someone - why should society accept that? Or if she falls ill herself, she will be imposing a medical burden on the rest of the society - whose rules she rejects, presumably.
"Usually, in such cases, there will be more to it than meets the eye."
Veteran lawyer Edmond Pereira said the woman's claims of being a "sovereign" were baffling as she is "claiming to be the highest level of authority in the land".
"But in Singapore, nobody is above the law. Maybe this woman was having some illusion that she is," he said.
Psychologist Frances Yeo said there could several reasons that some people might breach the safe distancing measures.
"There is a bit of optimism bias for some, who don't feel there is a threat and believe they won't get infected," she said.
"Others are stubborn, and some may say things like they must go out and they don't care even if they die."
In some cases, there may also be a wilful element, whereby both the young and old just do not want to follow the rules.
"For the majority, the fear of the virus and the deterrent effects of the law are keeping them home," Ms Yeo added.
"But there will always be a minority who perhaps have personality issues and just will not listen to reason."