British national Benjamin Glynn is the latest person to be charged in court and punished for his crime of not wearing a mask. The circus surrounding both his court cases were widely publicised since they were so bizarre. The court had to put up with several instances of unusual behaviour from both the dock and gallery.
He claims that he didn’t need to mask up because he’s a ‘sovereign’ – an excuse that’s been used in relation to not wearing masks by another anti-masker, Paramjeet Kaur. The most recent anti-mask person to cite sovereignty is Malaysian ex-beauty queen Samantha Katie James (the one who was thrown into the spotlight for her bizarrely insensitive opinions on BLM last year).
How did it all start?
He was up for several charges:
- failing to wear a mask (first on an MRT and then outside the courts)
- public nuisance (on the MRT)
- using threatening words towards a public servant (when they went to his residence to investigate)
He was in prison from Jul 19 to Aug 4, and during the trail on Aug 5, Glynn told a district court that he’s “sovereign”, adding, “The charges don’t apply to me”. He asked if the prosecutor had seen his “sovereign ID”, adding that he felt like “a PhD law lecturer dealing with a GCE law student”.
He conducted his own defence in court after his “legal counsel” was found to not actually be a lawyer but another “sovereign” and was told to leave.
During the trail, Glynn stressed that he had been “kidnapped and abducted” against his will. “I hid in the bathroom and I said – I do not consent, I do not comply. They dragged me out of the shower and handcuffed me.”
He was then remanded at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) from Aug 5 to Aug 18.
The second time the 40-year-old was in court (Aug 19), he was convicted and sentenced all in one day. Glynn’s argument centered on how he signed no contract of mask-wearing, and that charges are “regulations (that) do not apply” to a “living man” like himself. The judge interjected: “The court can take notice that you are a living person. It is obvious to everyone in this courtroom that you are a living person.”
He was handed a 6-week jail sentence which was backdated, and has since been handed over to authorities for deportation. He has also been “permanently banned” from working in Singapore.
The side characters
The court was interrupted by a 51-year-old Singaporean woman who disrupted the proceedings by not wearing a mask and loudly proclaiming, “This is a ridiculous kangaroo court,” before she was asked to leave. She also asked, “Why can’t I go back inside? Is he (the judge) afraid I’ll call him a kangaroo again?” She was investigated for contempt of court. It wasn’t clear if she was the same woman who clapped very loudly in support of Glynn during the first session.
Glynn’s “legal counsel” named Mr Abdul Rashid also claimed to be a “sovereign” who was an “ambassador-at-large and advocate of Kingdom Filipina Hacienda” and that he was defending his “sovereign compatriot.” He also said, “I don’t need a licence to practise.”
What is the Kingdom of Filipina Hacienda? It claims to be an autocratic monarchial microstate based in the Philippines ruled by “Queen Majesty” Salvacion Legaspi. It claims the whole Philippines as its domain, with Iligan City (which they renamed “Salvacion City”) as its capital. They maintain their own Tribunal Rural Bank, and have their own currency called “euro”.
Last December, “Queen Majesty” Salvacion Legaspi and 23 of her followers were arrested and charged for trespassing after they tried to take over a school property in Iligan City.
Some of the weirdest aspects of the case involve what Glynn said in court, including:
“Any messages from my family? Maybe my dead grandma has contacted you from beyond the grave”
“Back to law school for you, Mr Koh”
“Some great investigation work there… Sherlock Holmes will be proud of you”
“You are not living men and women, they are legal fictions. I am living man, I control my public trust”
“I’m enlightened… Just because I refuse to be a slave, you accuse me of being a lunatic”
“I don’t get my information from the Straits Times”
The bizarre coincidence of anti-maskers in Singapore
Benjamin Glynn wasn’t the first person to be charged in court for mask-related issues, and a bizarre trial.
Phoon Chiu Yoke, the 54-year-old woman who was seen without a mask at Marina Bay Sands, was given 22 charges in May, including multiple counts of failing to wear a mask in public places despite numerous requests from a safe distancing ambassador (SDA) to do so.
In May last year, Paramjeet Kaur caused a commotion at a market during the “circuit breaker” period by refusing to wear a mask. She also called herself a “sovereign”, was given jail and a fine in May this year.
If you haven’t already noticed, anti-masking seems to happen during the month of May – Glynn first committed his offence on the MRT on May 7. How bizarre.