Published 32 Mins Ago
SINGAPORE – Iris Koh, the founder of anti-vaccine group Healing the Divide, was granted $20,000 bail on Friday (Feb 4).
Koh, 46, appeared in court via video link and was wearing a white polo T-shirt.
As part of bail conditions, she is not allowed to contact, directly or indirectly, co-accused persons, alleged accomplices or any witnesses, including members of the group whom she had allegedly referred to general practitioner Jipson Quah.
When Deputy Public Prosecutor Samuel Yap told the court of these conditions, Koh’s lawyer Clarence Lun said the last restriction was overly broad as there were more than 6,000 people in the group.
He said: “We think it would be in the interest of justice and fairness, (to have) a certain specificity.”
During the interaction between the lawyers, Koh raised her several hand several times wishing to speak.
When she was finally allowed to do so by District Judge Ng Peng Hong, she said that, because of the nature of this case, she would need to contact her members to gather evidence for her defence.
Judge Ng clarified that if any members were needed to help with the defence, Koh’s lawyer could speak to the prosecution about this.
SINGAPORE: The founder of the Healing the Divide group was given a new charge on Friday (Feb 4) of obstructing a police inspector by refusing to sign and tearing up a copy of her statement while in lockup.
Iris Koh Shu Cii, 46, now faces two charges in total. Her other charge is for being party to a criminal conspiracy with doctor Jipson Quah to defraud the Ministry of Health (MOH) into believing people were vaccinated with the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine.
The founder of anti-vaccine group Healing the Divide Iris Koh has been denied bail for a second time.
Her bid to be released on bail before Chinese New Year was rejected on Jan. 31, reported Today.
“Wholly devoid of merit”
According to Today, Justice Vincent Hoong ruled that her application for bail, or a temporary release from remand, was “wholly devoid of merit”.
He agreed with the prosecution that Koh’s “efforts to frustrate and impede investigations” contributed to the need for remand, according to CNA, and said that she should be remanded further due to the complexity and urgency of the investigation.
He said that the High Court’s revisionary powers to set aside the district judge’s orders for no bail should be “sparingly exercised”.
The prosecution also noted that her “pattern of behaviour” indicates her “determination” not to cooperate with the police.
The prosecution also said that the argument that no progress would be made on the investigations during the Chinese New Year period was speculative.
Tore up a written statement
Deputy Public Prosecutor Jiang Ke-Yue told the court that Koh’s conduct delayed investigations, reported CNA.
Koh refused to be referred to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) twice, despite complaining of anxiety and panic attacks the first time, and discomfort the second.
At the same time, she had “no issue” understanding the statement read out to her and signing the document, said Jiang.
On her fourth day on remand, Koh asked to lodge a police report against the investigation officer, a request which was granted.
The next day, Koh tore up a written statement printed for her to sign.
Remand to continue
On Jan. 28, while warded in Singapore General Hospital and served a charge, she shouted a vulgarity at the investigation officer, Jiang said.
Investigations have also “disclosed more offences”, and that her criminal conspiracy involved at least 20 patients.
“The evidence shows she’s not cooperating and she has some part to play in the current delay,” Jiang said, pointing out that the other two men accused had been cooperating, and arrangements were being made for their release, Today reported.
Justice Hoong ruled that the remand order should stand.
“Based on the prosecution’s submissions concerning the complexity, necessity and urgency of the application, the district judge was wholly entitled to exercise her discretion to grant the said order for remand. I am also of the view that no grave and serious injustice has been occasioned to the applicant by the judge’s order,” he said, according to CNA.
No visitation rights
Despite her health conditions, Koh had been assessed “medically fit to be interviewed and thus fit for investigations”, according to CNA.
Her husband had requested to visit her in the hospital during her period of remand, but the judge had also denied Koh visitation rights.
Her co-accused, Quah and Chua, were offered bail on Monday morning in the State Courts.
SINGAPORE: The High Court has denied a request for Iris Koh, the founder of Healing the Divide group that has a known stance against COVID-19 vaccination, to spend Chinese New Year with her family.
On Monday (Jan 31), the court dismissed an application from her lawyer, Mr Clarence Lun of Fervent Chambers, to reverse Koh’s no-bail condition set by the State Courts last Friday. The application also sought to grant the 46-year-old “temporary release” from remand.
It is Koh’s husband’s “sincere hope” to be able to spend Chinese New Year with her, Mr Lun told CNA.
In his judgment, High Court judge Justice Vincent Hoong said there was “no legal basis” to grant a temporary release from remand. Moreover, the High Court’s revisionary powers to set aside the district judge’s orders for no bail should be “sparingly exercised”.
Koh is currently warded at Singapore General Hospital, and will be remanded again once she is discharged.
FAMILY TIME FOR ‘EMOTIONAL STRENGTH’
Mr Lun argued that given his client’s health condition, Koh should be allowed to spend time with her loved ones to “gain emotional strength”.
“Against the fact that we’re approaching Chinese New Year and where any accused who is in remand will probably require some family support, and what (better time) other than during this festive season to spend time with family to gain that emotional strength and then to carry on with the investigations?”
Having previously been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, Koh “probably requires some rest and family support to better recover and further assist police in their investigations”, said Mr Lun.
“We’re not saying that my client is not suitable for investigations. But what are the conditions that are best imposed and that best fit (her) interest and public interest? … For someone who has been suffering (from) suspected psychosis and hypothyroidism, what is the mental and emotional state for them to assist the police?”
Mr Lun added that evidence is “unlikely to be obtained” during the Chinese New Year period, and said the prosecution had not “set out to explain how evidence is likely to be obtained during this period of remand, taking into account (Koh’s) health conditions”.
He also said the prosecution hasn’t explained why and how Koh’s release would affect public interest, as there is “no evidence that my client will tamper with evidence if she’s released on bail”.
The lawyer then proposed to the court that Koh could report to the police from Friday (Feb 4) onwards during the working hours of 9am to 6pm, excluding weekends.
He suggested that as a further condition, the court could impose non-communication between Koh and the relevant parties who have been identified in investigations to allay any doubts on tampering of evidence.
Mr Lun also said that Koh’s passport had been impounded, so she isn’t a flight risk.
‘PATTERN’ OF UNCOOPERATIVE BEHAVIOUR
In response, the prosecution argued there is “no merit” for the two assertions by the defence: First, that Koh was medically unfit to cooperate with investigations, and second, that she would cooperate with investigations.
“Thus far, she has not been cooperative with investigations and contributed to the delay,” said Deputy Public Prosecutor Jiang Ke-Yue.
Mr Jiang highlighted that Koh had been assessed by several doctors to be medically and “mentally” fit for investigations. He added that the latest email updates from the investigating officer to Koh’s husband stated that while Koh requires a medical procedure for her hypothyroidism, this would be done in two to three weeks’ time when her thyroid hormone level has stabilised.
Details of Koh’s “pattern of behaviour that shows her determination not to cooperate” from the day of her arrest were also presented in court by Mr Jiang.