Tuition centre administrator took down NRIC numbers of students and parents to redeem their masks

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SINGAPORE: An administrator at a tuition centre took down the NRIC numbers of students and their parents in order to redeem face masks that were distributed at vending machines by Temasek Foundation to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

She did so as she thought her family "needed more face masks" and thought it would be a waste if other people did not redeem their masks.

Hah Fong Yong, 58, pleaded guilty on Wednesday (Jan 25) to one count of cheating, with a second charge to be considered in sentencing.

The court heard that Hah worked the counter at Stalford Tuition Centre at Block 209, Upper Changi Road. She was tasked with registering students for tuition classes, and had to obtain NRIC numbers of the students and their parents to complete registration forms for enrolment.

In February 2021, Temasek Foundation announced that they were beginning their fourth nationwide distribution of mask packs.

Residents were entitled to one mask pack each, consisting of one Livinguard mask, that they would redeem from vending machines around the island by keying in their NRIC numbers.

From March 2021, Hah began noting down NRIC numbers of students and their parents whom she came across during work.

She noted down four to five NRIC numbers on a piece of paper whenever she had free time, the court heard.

She wrote down NRIC numbers of at least eight individuals, intending to use the numbers to redeem Livinguard masks issued by Temasek Foundation.

After recording the NRIC numbers, Hah would go to a vending machine at a bus interchange or near her house to redeem the masks and take them home.

She went to the machines and keyed in personal information of other individuals and redeemed a total of 20 masks valued at S$200 in total.

On Mar 3, 2021, a woman lodged a police report saying she and her son could not redeem their masks as they had already been taken.

Hah was identified using police camera footage, which captured her redeeming masks at two locations. She was arrested at her home on Mar 11, 2021.

Twenty unopened packs of masks were seized from her home.

According to court documents, a consultant with the Institute of Mental Health performed a forensic psychiatric assessment of Hah and found that she did not meet the criteria for hoarding disorder.

She was also not suffering from any mental disorder at the time of the offences.

She will return to court for sente...

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