SINGAPORE, May 6 — A 40-year-old woman who has gained notoriety for claiming that she is a “sovereign” above the law was charged in a district court yesterday for public nuisance and breaching circuit breaker measures.
Paramjeet Kaur, a Singaporean who is understood to be born here, faces three charges under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Regulations 2020 and one charge of public nuisance.
She was arrested at about 9pm on Monday and appeared in court through a video link from the Central Police Division headquarters with a face mask on, pulled down to expose her nose and mouth.
She has been remanded at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH).
She is accused of:
Leaving her home to eat in front of a food stall at Shunfu Mart on April 14
Not wearing a face mask in public on two occasions — April 30 and May 3
Shouting loudly and creating a scene at Shunfu Mart on May 3
The police previously said that she was being investigated for assaulting a 47-year-old woman, who had advised her to wear a mask, but this was not the subject of any charges yesterday.
Her lawyer, Satwant Singh, told the court that her mother had hired him to represent her.
Kaur then said: “I would just like to say something. I am a living woman and that is my only capacity in this matter. I extend my sovereign immunity to Satwant and I asked Satwant to represent me.”
While a police prosecutor asked that she be sent to IMH for two weeks for psychiatric observation, Singh said that she “has her own rights” and asked to speak to her in order to explain the law.
After a short break, the lawyer said that he had read the investigation officer’s report.
It stated that she had claimed she was “not a person” and wants “to be referred to as thou, thy, thee”.
Singh also noted that several witnesses had called her “crazy” but that did not mean she was suffering from mental health problems.
She does not have any known history at IMH, he added.
The police prosecutor replied: “We’re not sure if the accused is currently fit to plead in court this would be advantageous not only to the prosecution but counsel as well. If counsel wishes to speak to her, he can do so after the IMH remand.”
“Did the investigation officer consider me sane enough when he was reading the charges to me?” Kaur asked, repeating that she was “extending her immunity” to Singh.
District Judge Clement Tan disagreed that there would be any prejudice to Kaur if she was remanded at IMH and ordered her to be sent there.
She will return to court on May 19.
If convicted of public nuisance, she could be fined up to S$2,000.
She could also be fined up to S$10,000, jailed up to six months or both for each charge under the Covid-19 regulations if convicted.
Chinese daily Lianhe Wanbao reported that she works as a physiotherapist, and had lived in Australia for 20 years before returning to Singapore last year.
Videos of her confrontations with members of the public went viral over the weekend and on Monday.
In one of the videos, she could be heard saying, “The law is you can’t tell me what to do”.
In a second video taken along a walkway, the woman said that the police had previously stopped her at the market and had let her off without a warning or a fine.
She added: “I’m a sovereign This is something people are not going to know what it is.”
In a third video, a member of the public was seen approaching her with a face mask but she told him to “mind his own business”.
The radical belief that one is a “sovereign citizen” above the law — and gets to decide which rules to obey and which ones to ignore — has its roots in the United States in the 1970s and was largely influenced by white supremacist and anti-Semitic groups from the 1960s to 1980s.
She was fined for breaching the rules last month during the circuit breaker to restrict movement of people and business activities. It was reported that she turned aggressive when SG Clean ambassadors from the National Environment Agency approached her and asked her to leave the hawker centre at Shunfu Mart.
She was not observing safe distancing when buying food at a stall and went on to eat the food she bought on-site, which was not allowed.
She then refused to cooperate when told to leave and took photographs and videos of the ambassadors, doing the same with the police when they arrived to handle the case.
Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam spoke up about the case on Monday, saying that people who do not want to obey the rules of the society they live in should not expect any of the benefits that come from that particular system of governance. — TODAY