If there’s one person apart from lockdown influencers who became well-known overnight in Singapore, it’s the badge lady.
Yes, the one who refused to wear masks in public and asked a safe distancing officer for their badge when they told her to wear one.
And while it seems like mask-wearing has gradually started to depart from our daily routine, the badge lady’s saga in Singapore continues.
This time, she questioned the security officers at ION Orchard shopping mall who caught her without a mask on 16 August last year.
As part of her appeal against four charges related to mask-wearing, the badge lady, 55-year-old Phoon Chiu Yoke, was in court just yesterday (24 May).
The four charges include her not wearing a mask on Orchard Road and in ION Orchard when masks were still mandatory, as well as not showing up for an investigation conducted by the Singapore Tourism Board.
She cross-examined the two officers who were called to the stand to testify for the prosecution.
Officer Recognised Phoon From Social Media and the News
In court, one of the officers explained how he was on duty on the day of Phoon’s offence.
He spotted Phoon travelling down from the third to the second level of the mall without wearing a mask, which prompted him to approach her.
Not because he wanted an autograph, of course, but because, as a security guard, his job scope involved making sure that patrons abided by rules set by the government by wearing masks.
“I knew her from the social media, Facebook and also from [the] newspaper,” the officer mentioned in response to the prosecution asking if this was his first time seeing Phoon.
The officer added that Phoon “turned away without giving any words” when told to wear a mask, prompting him to inform his command centre of the situation.
Apart from that, the officer said that Phoon placed what looked like a “loop” around her ears after he asked her to wear a mask.
Badge Lady Kept Replaying CCTV Footage, Asked if There Were Mask-Wearing Signs in ION
Throughout the cross-examination, Phoon was observed to be “familiar” with court procedures and spent most of the time asking for closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage to be played in court.
Ah, yes, because CCTV footage lies. Can’t believe most of us don’t know this yet!
She also asked the officer to tell the court “what exactly did [he] tell [her]” when he came up to her at the mall.
“Can you please wear your mask,” the officer responded.
After hearing his response, she started to point out something almost completely unrelated to the incident.
Which sounds like most of us when we try to reach the word count on our essays.
“I’d like to know – were there signages in ION Orchard that all visitors have to put on a mask?” Phoon questioned.
The security officer tried to reply but was interrupted after he said, “During that time[,] there was government protocol-”
When interrupting the officer, Phoon asked again, “My question is – are there signages in ION Orchard that I have to put on a mask?”
Yup, because the phrase “government protocol” clearly isn’t enough to convince people to wear a mask.
To that, the officer said that he did not remember if there were such signs.
Asked How He Could Confirm that She Was Not Eating
And that’s not the only (odd) question she asked the officer.
After the first question, Phoon continued by asking, “My second question is – was I eating, drinking or consuming medicine?”
When the officer said no, she added, “You approached me from the back. How do you know I was not consuming medicine or chewing something in my mouth?”
“Because you [looked] at me, and I did not see you consuming anything,” the officer replied.
Insisted that She Wore a Mask After 39 Seconds of CCTV Footage
Afterwards, Phoon turned her attention to the CCTV footage of her not wearing a mask at ION Orchard and highlighted the timestamps in the footage.
In particular, she emphasised how the officer came up to her at 12:02:30 while she put on a mask at 12:03:09 that day.
“So between 12:02:30 and 12:03:09, it’s about 39 seconds, so to you, it’s important that if a visitor doesn’t put on a mask for 39 seconds, it’s a big offence, and therefore I have to leave ION Orchard?” Phoon asked the officer.
At this rate, I don’t even know if she’s on trial or if the poor security officer is the one on trial.
Additionally, Phoon insisted that she wore a mask in ION Orchard after the 39-second interaction with the security officer.
When replying to her question, the security officer revealed that it was indeed an offence as security officers in the mall are required to first advise patrons to put on a mask.
If they do not comply, the officers have the right to decline entry to these patrons.
Asked Another Officer How He Could Confirm that CCTV Footage Had Not Been Tampered With
And another issue arose when Phoon spoke to another security officer at ION Orchard.
The second officer, who was responsible for retrieving CCTV footage of her not wearing a mask for the investigating officer, was asked whether the footage had been retained in its original form.
In particular, Phoon asked how the officer was sure the footage had not been tampered with or edited as he “did not protect” it.
She also questioned if the officer had ensured that the downloaded footage was identical to the raw one by comparing the two “second by second”.
Apart from that, Phoon also specially highlighted several clips of footage where she was captured from the back.
Regarding this, she said that it could not be confirmed that the person in the footage was her.
Phoon first became infamous after not wearing her mask at the Marina Bay Sands (MBS) and asking a safe distancing officer for their badge.
After being arrested in May 2021, she was charged with multiple charges under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act and was remanded at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH).
She also served 16 weeks in jail in September 2021 after being found guilty of her “mask-related offences”.
Before her offence at ION Orchard, right before the mandatory mask-wearing rule was lifted, she was caught not wearing a mask five times when mask-wearing was still compulsory in Singapore.
In court, even Xiaxue was brought in as a witness in February this year.
Just like her most recent court hearing, Phoon questioned all the evidence in court back then as well.
If found guilty of not wearing a mask when required, repeat offenders may be punished with a maximum jail term of one year, a maximum fine of $20,000 or both.
Repeat offenders found guilty of not complying with an officer during investigations under the Infectious Diseases Act are also subject to the same penalties.