'Badge Lady' trial: Xiaxue called as prosecution's witness

SINGAPORE — Social media influencer Wendy Cheng, more popularly known as Xiaxue, was called as a witness in the trial of ‘Badge Lady’, who is being accused of not wearing a mask in Orchard Road.

Phoon Chiu Yoke, 55, who represented herself in court during the first day of the trial on Friday (Feb 24), is contesting four charges — three for failing to wear a mask when it was mandatory to do so.

Amid Covid-19, wearing masks outdoors became optional in Singapore only from March 29, 2022.

Cheng, 38, was called to testify as one of the prosecution’s witnesses.

She said that around 3pm on March 6, she was filming video for a client outside Mandarin Gallery on Orchard Road when she saw Phoon walking past her without wearing a mask.

“I was filming when I saw the Badge Lady — that’s what I know her as — and I rushed forward to take a video,” said Cheng in court.

She added: “I did not want to approach her too closely as that would be too confrontational, so I used my phone to zoom in.”

But Phoon contested the “validity of the evidence”, and said there was no date and time stamp on the video that Ms Cheng took on her mobile phone, nor was there any proof that the video was not edited or altered.

In September 2022, Phoon was handed two charges of failing to wear a mask on March 6, 2022.

The first was for walking maskless along Mandarin Gallery in Orchard Road from 3.02pm to 3.04pm, and the second for walking without wearing a mask past a nearby Victoria Secret outlet between 3.35pm and 3.37pm.

Phoon was also handed a charge for walking in Ion Orchard without a mask on Aug 16, 2022, from 11.48am to 12.03pm.

Mask-wearing indoors in places such as malls was made optional only on Aug 29.

Phoon also faces a charge for allegedly failing to turn up at the Singapore Tourism Board in Orchard Spring Lane as required by a health officer who was then conducting an investigation.

The investigation was in relation to an offence under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Regulations 2020, concerning how Phoon had allegedly not worn a mask in March 2022.

The trial continues.

Phoon first made headlines when she was caught on video not wearing a mask at Marina Bay Sands on May 15, 2021.

The clip, which went viral, showed her telling safe distancing ambassadors: “Who are you? Who are you representing? Where is your badge? Show me your badge.”

Phoon was hauled to court later that month and was handed five charges under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act.

After she was charged in 2021 over her earlier offences, Phoon walked out of the State Courts building, removed her mask in front of members of the media and smiled.

She was sentenced to 16 weeks’ jail in September 2021 after pleading guilty to nine charges, including not wearing a mask in public places and breaching a stay-home notice.

ALSO READ: ‘MBS badge lady’ back on the streets sans mask; Xiaxue gets glared at after approaching her

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.


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