Two youths, 17, charged over 'how to spread Wuhan virus' video

(PHOTOS: YouTube screengrabs)

SINGAPORE — Two 17-year-old youths who filmed themselves drinking from and replacing a bottle of drink that was not paid for on a supermarket shelf were charged in court on Thursday (9 April).

Nigel Pang Yew Ming and Quek Xuan Zhi, were each charged with one count of committing a public nuisance act with common intention of causing annoyance to the public.

Video captioned ‘How to spread Wuhan virus’

According to the charge sheets, the two teenagers were at an NTUC FairPrice supermarket at the HomeTeamNS Bukit Batok clubhouse at about 7.45pm on 6 February.

They allegedly took a video of them taking two bottles of fruit juice from a refrigerated shelf at the supermarket, drinking from the bottles and then replacing the bottles back on the shelf.

One of the youths posted the video on his private Instagram account with the caption “How to spread Wuhan virus”.

According to a police media release on Wednesday, an acquaintance subsequently recorded a copy of the video and circulated it online. The video was widely-shared, thereby caused annoyance to members of the public who viewed that video, and a police report was lodged on 8 February.

Police had said in earlier media reports that, according to preliminary investigations, the duo had filmed the video out of mischief and intended for it to be a joke to be shared among a closed group of friends. They later bought the drinks.

“The police will not tolerate any actions that stoke undue public alarm, especially during this period of heightened sensitivity,” police added.

Failed in gag order application

Xuan Zhi’s lawyer Tan Hee Joek applied to the court for a gag order on his client’s name, citing a new amendment to the Children and Young Persons Act. He added that his client would be “taking a certain course” of action.

“My client is 17 years old and the law had been amended recently to protect those under 18. It has not come into force yet from what I understand, but given that there is high media attention, your honour might consider whether to protect his identity in the meantime,” Tan said to District Judge Adam Nakhoda.

However the prosecution objected to the application, saying there was no “legal basis” as the law has not come into force yet.

Nigel, on the other hand, was unrepresented.

The judge adjourned both teenagers’ cases to 8 May for further hearing. If convicted of public nuisance, each can be jailed up to three months and/or fined up to $2,000.

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