Homeless man gets 7 days in jail for violating notice, not staying at home

Covid management, #pandemic, Singapore, #stay-home notice, Covid

Rahman was arrested. two weeks after he returned to Singapore. (Representative image)

When Singaporean national Rozman Abdul Rahman returned from Batam, Indonesia on March 20, 2020, he knew he had to serve a 14-day stay-home notice as it was the initial days of the pandemic.

There were, however, two problems he had to face: he had lost ownership of a shared flat with his ex-wife and he had put his estranged stepsister’s address for serving his stay-home notice. Since the siblings were no longer in touch, Rahman chose to spend 13 days sleeping in public places like a car park and a walkway while working almost every night as a security guard at a grocery logistics company. He did not tell his employer about his stay-home notice.

On April 3, immigration officers visited Rahman’s sister’s address and found that he had not been staying there. He was arrested later that day and charged under the Infectious Diseases Act.

Rozman’s defense lawyers said that he had tried to do his research on the Covid restrictions in Singapore and genuinely believed that he wouldn’t be subject to a stay-home notice when he arrived on March 20. Authorities, however, argued that Rahman should have informed them that he had no place to stay.

Rahman has pled guilty to the charges and has until December 16 to file an appeal. A social worker has also helped Rahman find refuge in homeless shelters.

Singapore has been criticised for its harsh policies on marginalised communities in the name of Covid management—especially migrant workers, including one man who visited food courts and a supermarket and one woman who left her house to buy bubble tea.

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