Singapore: Kenneth Lai Yong Hui, taxi driver, gets 4 months’ jail for Facebook post urging people to ‘stock up your stuff for the next month’…




Lai claimed that he saw a text message in one of his WhatsApp groups between Apr 15 and Apr 16, stating that “disposable food container can transmit the virus” and “hawker centre and coffeeshop will be closed”.

He was unable to identify who sent the purported message, and the message could not later be recovered from his phone.

However, without taking any steps to verify this information, Lai took to the “Taxiuncle” Facebook group and wrote: “Got intel say sg will proceed with more measures in place come this Saturday. Food courts coffee shop all to close. Supermarkets will only open two days a week. Better go stock up your stuff for the next month or so. Govt officials in meeting yesterday and will finalize measures tomorrow.”

He knew that the message was false, the court heard.

Apart from not knowing whether food courts and coffee shops would actually be closed as part of “elevated safe distancing measures”, he also admitted later that he had concocted the false information that supermarkets would open only two days a week.

After he created the post, he saw a few comments advising him not to spread rumours, and he deleted it after about 15 minutes.

A man called the police at about 12.30pm on Apr 20 saying he saw the post by Lai, and said: “I know Kenneth is using the (handphone) number – as I used to book his taxi service. Hope you will take up this case as his posting is irresponsible (and) will cause panic to fellow Singaporeans.”



Published: 9:08pm, 27 May, 2020

Kenneth Lai Yong Hui sentenced to four months in prison for claiming outlets would close and urging people to ‘stock up your stuff for the next month’.

‘The psychological fight to allay fear and hysteria is just as important as the fight to contain the spread of Covid-19,’ prosecutor said.

A taxi driver was jailed for four months in Singapore on Wednesday over a Facebook post in which he falsely claimed food outlets would close and urged people to stock up due to impending Covid-19 restrictions, local media reported.

Kenneth Lai Yong Hui, 40, deleted the message sent to a private Facebook group with around 7,500 members after 15 minutes, court records show, but the public prosecutor called for a punishment that would deter others.

Singapore, which has seen bouts of panic buying during a four-month battle with the virus, has imposed tough punishments on those who breach containment rules or spread misinformation as it tackles one of Asia’s highest Covid-19 rates.


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