Singaporean man jailed for spreading COVID-19 fake news hinh anh 1Kenneth Lai Yong Hui who was just jailed for four years over spreading fake news in Singapore (Photo: LIANHE ZAOBAO/Straitstimes)

Singapore (VNA) – A Singaporean taxi driver was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment on May 27 for posting a fake message on Facebook about supposed food outlet closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic and urging panic buying.

According to the Straits Times and Channel News Asia, the 40-year-old cabby named Kenneth Lai Yong Hui posted a false message in a private Facebook group which had about 7,500 members.

In the message, Lai claimed he had received information that all food courts and coffee shops would close and supermarkets would open only two days a week. He also said people should stock up stuff.

The man deleted his post after 15 minutes, however, Deputy Public Prosecutor Deborah Lee, who proposed the sentence, said that his lies could "conceivably result in public alarm and panic buying" and called for a punishment that would deter others.

“The psychological fight to allay fear and hysteria is just as important as the fight to contain the spread of COVID-19,” Lee said in her sentencing submission, according to case documents.

The offence of transmitting a false message in Singapore can result in an imprisonment for up to three years and a maximum fine of 10,000 USD.

The country, which has seen bouts of panic buying during a four-month battle with the virus, has imposed tough punishments on those who breach containment rules or spread misinformation.

Last month, a man who broke quarantine with 30 minutes remaining to buy a flatbread worth a few dollars was fined 1,000 USD. Another man who breached an order to stay home to eat pork rib soup was jailed for six weeks./.