A 44 year old FedEx pilot from Alaska has become the first foreigner to be jailed in Singapore for violating quarantine orders.
Three FedEx pilots arrived from Sydney on April 3, and were supposed to fly back to the US on April 6. The pilots stayed at the Crowne Plaza Changi Airport and were serving a mandatory quarantine because they stated in their health declarations that they visited China, Macau, Japan, or the United States in the past 14 days.
On April 5 health officials checked up on the pilots, and found that one of the pilots wasn’t in his room. It was later determined that he had taken the metro downtown to buy a thermometer and some masks before flying home.
The pilot claimed he needed the items because they were in short supply back in Alaska, and his wife was ill. While she had tested negative for coronavirus, she had breathing difficulties. Furthermore, the pilot said he had lost his daughter four years before, and he couldn’t handle the thought of anything happening to his wife.
This past week the pilot was sentenced — while prosecutors sought an eight week jail term, he ended up “only” getting four weeks in jail, and could be released after three weeks for good behavior. In his address to the court he acknowledged that he used poor judgment and shouldn’t have gone out, and said he has the highest regard for Singapore people and its law.
Interestingly all of this was before Singapore even went into partial lockdown, which only happened on April 7.
It’s not surprising to see something like this happen in Singapore, given that it’s a country where the rules are the rules, and one shouldn’t expect much leniency. After all, this is the same country that has arrested dozens of people for misusing boarding passes.
Obviously the pilot was exercising poor judgment, though there’s an irony to spending nearly a month in jail for trying to buy equipment to protect yourself and your family during a virus.
What do you guys think — was the punishment deserved?