Robertson Quay incident: Seven foreigners charged with gathering to drink, chat during circuit breaker in Singapore

The seven accused persons are (top row left to right) Neil Gordon Buchan, Poynter Joseph William, Bao Nguyen Brown, (bottom row left to right) Michael Czerny, Perry Scott Blair, Brown Jeffrey George and James Titus Beatt. — TODAY pic
The seven accused persons are (top row left to right) Neil Gordon Buchan, Poynter Joseph William, Bao Nguyen Brown, (bottom row left to right) Michael Czerny, Perry Scott Blair, Brown Jeffrey George and James Titus Beatt. — TODAY pic

SINGAPORE, June 2 — Six men and a woman were charged in a district court today with gathering outside bars and restaurants at Robertson Quay to drink last month.

The seven accused persons, who are all foreigners, allegedly took part in social gatherings that were banned during the circuit breaker period to limit social and business activities in order to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Photographs of crowds outside food-and-beverage outlets in the area went viral two weeks ago and sparked public furore.

Following that, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) issued directions to about 10 restaurants at Robertson Quay to immediately stop selling takeaway alcohol.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Timotheus Koh told the court that the accused persons are in two separate groups. All of them face one charge under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Regulations 2020.

They are:

Neil Gordon Buchan, 30, United Kingdom citizen

Perry Scott Blair, 37, UK citizen

Bao Nguyen Brown, 40, United States citizen

Brown Jeffrey George, 52, US citizen

Michael Czerny, 45, Austrian

James Titus Beatt, 33, UK citizen

Poynter Joseph William, 35, UK citizen

Court documents stated that Blair, Poynter, Beatt and Buchan met at the Rosso Vino restaurant on May 16 for about 20 minutes to chat and have drinks.

Nguyen Brown and Jeffrey Brown, who are married, are accused of meeting Czerny on the same evening in the vicinity of Tap @ Robertson Quay to chat and have drinks as well.

The three are represented by Mirza Namazie, who said that Nguyen Brown has been in Singapore for 14 years on an employment pass, which allows foreign professionals, managers and executives to work in the country.

Czerny is a Singapore permanent resident and has two children here, Mirza added.

For the other group, Buchan and Beatt are defended by Shashi Nathan. Christopher Bridges is representing Poynter and Blair.

Court documents did not state how they knew one another.

All seven accused persons will return to court on June 16 and were offered bail of S$3,000. As part of bail conditions, they have to surrender their travel documents — including passports — and not commit further offences.

If convicted, they could be fined up to S$10,000, jailed up to six months, or both.

After photos of the Robertson Quay gatherings went viral, Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, wrote on Facebook that most operators and individuals in the area have been complying with safe distancing measures.

A restaurant manager previously told TODAY that even though they had stacked and locked up all the tables and chairs in the cafe’s alfresco area, some patrons then unstacked the chairs and sat on them. Others said that they had to repeatedly tell customers to leave.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority said that by selling takeaway alcohol, the 10 establishments that were issued directions had contributed to more people gathering around those premises.

In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Manpower said that foreigners working in Singapore “must abide by our laws”. Those convicted, regardless of the type of work pass they hold, risk having them revoked and banned from working here.

In the past three years, more than 100 employment pass holders have had their passes revoked, MOM said.

“(Circuit breaker) measures are enforced strictly regardless of nationality. Singaporeans and foreigners alike have been penalised for flouting the rules. These have been widely publicised.

“Work pass holders are reminded to take these rules seriously, for their own protection and the safety of the community at large,” MOM added. — TODAY

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