About ten days ago, it was reported that Mr Hu Jun and Ms Shi Sha have been allowed to return to China before the next stage of their trial commences in January.
The couple is accused of lying to MOH officers on their whereabouts after Hu Jun contracted COVID-19 back in January this year.
District Judge Ng Peng Hong approved the application, on the condition that they return before the trial.
Other underlying conditions were also set.
Although the prosecutor was vocally against the move, his argument was ultimately ruled out.
However, the prosecutor had then successfully asked for a stay of this order, for it to be put on hold as it’ll be reviewed in the High Court.
Today (19 Oct), however, there’s yet another twist in this high-profile case: after a High Court review, the judge’s decision was overturned and Justice Vincent Hoong now disallowed the couple to leave Singapore.
Before you wonder if there’s yet another higher court to overturn this decision, here’s a simple explanation that’ll hopefully make you sound smarter during dinner tonight.
When there’s a dispute, whether it’s a civil case (David sues Mary for money that Mary allegedly owes David) or a criminal case (David beats up Mary so the Government “sues” David), a judge will make decisions.
Because everything is law by law ah, everything must go through a judge. Heck, even if you refuse to pay your ERP fine, you can be called up to court to let a judge decide if you indeed need to pay the fine, though most of us would just pay the fine instead lah even if you’re from NUS.
Now you see the difference: if it’s a small case like an ERP fine, you’d be in a court that’s smaller.
If it’s a bigly case, it’ll be in a bigger court. That biggest court in Singapore is called the Supreme Court, and you should pray to God that you won’t need to be there. It comprises two courts: the High Court and the Court of Appeal.
All you need to know is that in this case, the “bigger court” with “bigger judge” (it’s called a Justice here) overrides the “smaller court”. It’s like your director overriding your manager’s decision lah after you said that you’ll escalate it to the director.
With this, the couple won’t be allowed to leave Singapore until January next year when their trial resumes.
For a start, Mr Hu Jun had arrived in Singapore on 22 Jan and subsequently tested positive for the virus on 31 Jan. However, he allegedly gave fake information to a health officer about his whereabouts.
Ms Shi Sha, on the other hand, was issued a quarantine order after her husband was ascertained to be a positive case. Instead of complying like the law-abiding Ah Sohs of Singapore, however, she allegedly flouted the rules and left their marital home in favour of a hotel…
Without telling anyone about it.
In addition, Ms Shi Sha also lied about the exact unit she resided in and about the location where she had hailed a taxi on the way to Singapore General Hospital (SGH).
And so, the authority had no other choice to but to slap the couple with multiple charges in court: they were charged with obstructing COVID-19 containment work, under the Infectious Diseases Act.
But that wasn’t the end.
The couple had their hearings in August, and the trial is set to resume in January next year.
Had Initially Been Allowed to leave Singapore
Although the prosecutor was vocally against the decision to allow them to go back to China, his argument was ultimately ruled out.
Defence lawyer Dhanwant Singh said that his clients wished to leave the country, and will return by 20 Jan next year, “well before the trial”.
He stated that his clients have been away from their home country since 22 Jan, and that it would be close to a full year by the next stage of the trial.
“It is the livelihood of Mr Hu Jun that is adversely affected,” he said. “He works as a financial adviser… he works in this line where he has been in charge of investments ranging to millions of dollars and (his presence in China) is crucial in the sense that personal touch with the clients is important.”
In addition, his career is purportedly at a “crossroads”, and his presence in China is a priority.
The pair have two children aged 4 and 10, and both are in China with the couple’s parents and in-laws.
As a result of the trial, Shi has been away from her children for “quite a number of months”.
Singh added that they would not abscond, as they are “still innocent until proven guilty” and “are too well-known to be away.”
“The whole of Singapore, your honour, the whole of Wuhan or the rest of China – in fact on the Internet – they are well-known about the case,” said Mr Singh.
Meanwhile, Deputy Public Prosecutor Timotheus Koh disagreed with the application, stating that the couple has no ties or roots in Singapore.
By that, we can take it to mean that the couple would not suffer any loss if they were to desert the country in its entirety.
“All we have is really the accused persons’ say that they will not abscond. This is not sufficient,” he said.
He also argued that there was insufficient evidence to suggest that Hu’s situation is “so dire that he has to save his employment and return to China”.
He further highlighted that when trial dates were initially set on 11 September, there was no indication by the defence that the pair had wanted to leave Singapore.
In the end, he stressed that Hu and Shi are “flight risks”, and it is “highly likely they will not return”.
Wife Said She’ll Be Back
Shi said that they “have taken the proactive step to go to the hospital for testing and examination”.
“We have not infected anyone here in Singapore and we have been very cooperative in investigation. Therefore we will also very responsibly come back to Singapore.”
She added that one of her children is four years of age, and had apparently undergone an operation recently.
“I miss my children a lot,” she said.
She added that he had taken her children to Singapore to receive education because she has “love for this land.”
Well, it seems like she might not have the chance to see her son for the rest of 2020.