Sometimes, you just want a bowl of pork soup, or bak kut teh, as it’s called in Singapore. And sometimes, that is an itch that overrides all common sense until you can scratch it accordingly.
Nobody knows this better than Alan Tham Xiang Shen of Singapore, who pleaded guilty on April 16 to violating a Stay-at-Home (SAH) order to fulfill an “irresistible urge” for the soup. In doing so, he was charged with an offense under the country’s Infectious Diseases Act, according to The Straits Times.
Senior District Judge Ong Hian Sun called his violation of the order “socially reprehensible”, before handing him down a 6 week sentence.
Tham arrived in Singapore from Myanmar on March 23 and was directed via SAH order to stay home at all times until April 6. He also signed a slip to acknowledge he had received the order. But instead of going home on the date he was given the order, he instead met up with his girlfriend and went to a foodcourt at Terminal 3 of Changi Airport. They then hired a private car to take them to a money changer and then to Tham’s house.
About two hours later – after who knows what – the couple had worked up an appetite, so they boarded a bus and went out to get the soup. The couple posted about the meal on social media. They then went to a supermarket, and finally went home.
On March 25, Tham was paid a visit from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority who informed him that he did not go straight home after the order was issued to him on the 23rd.
Despite being found not to have the virus, Deputy Public Prosecutor Kenneth Chin recommended 10 to 12 weeks jail for Tham. Chin’s office said that the law is there “to prohibit socially irresponsible conduct regardless of whether any person is infected by the offender or not”.
Tham’s lawyers asked for either a maximum fine of $10,000 or two weeks jail. They argued that the SAH did not specify he had to go directly home after receiving it.
“The SAH does not impose any movement restrictions before going home, such as you must take away your meal and are not allowed to eat at the food outlet itself,” his lawyer argued, as only a lawyer can do.
But the judge didn’t see it that way and sentenced Tham to 6 weeks of hard time. He is expected to surrender himself at the State Courts on April 30 to begin serving his time.
All for bowl of pork soup.