The founder of an anti-vax group accused of directing the sabotage of public health hotlines said she was forced to encourage her followers to overwhelm them with calls because no one was listening to her.
Iris Koh, 45, founder of a homegrown anti-vax community that condemns preferential treatment of the vaccinated, said today that officials forced her hand by not responding to her complaints for over a month about recently imposed restrictions.
“It seems that our ministers are toying with our lives, and they have not answered any of my emails sent since early September,” she said today in a recorded message.
The police said yesterday they were investigating Koh for “instigating” the more than 2,000 members of her Telegram channel to inundate public hotlines following the government’s decision last month to bar the unvaccinated from shopping malls.
“Feel free to give your feedback and flood their hotlines. Please share and do it!” she wrote in her original Oct. 11 call to action. “Get people to demand this gets pushed up to the call centre manager. And ask for them to revert back.”
She said today that she changed the word “flood” to “call” in her message minutes after posting it.
“I have made my apologies regarding my actions for these few mins that the ‘flood’ word was used instead of a more generic ‘call.’ I myself was flooded with calls, messages and distress calls the entire weekend after the announcement,” she announced today, striking the default pose of “the real victim here.”
She targeted hotlines providing services such as suicide prevention and health counseling operated by the Ministry of Health, National Care Hotline, and Ministry of Social and Family Development. The authorities did not say whether the campaign succeeded in disrupting services.
Koh said many “angry and depressed people” expressed disappointment to her and in her group chat after last month’s restrictions were announced. About 800 people joined her channel overnight, she said.
She has also been actively spamming emails to Tanjong Pagar MPs, saying they have not responded since September.
Her defense today echoed comments she made weeks ago justifying her actions by saying the government had left her no other “avenues” by not responding to her feedback, which seems largely based on her susceptibility to conspiracy theories and internet disinformation.
“What avenues do you think we have left? Don’t you think it is important for us to feedback to the government what is happening on the ground? And why aren’t any of the ministers returning any of my emails for weeks? It’s almost like one and a half months, aren’t they supposed to be paid to answer our concerns and to listen to us,” she said.
Koh appealed to her audience today to collect “evidence” from members who reached out to her during last month to submit to the police.
Last month, Koh filed a harassment lawsuit against Singapore Press Holdings for publishing an opinion piece urging preferential treatment of the vaccinated. SPH dismissed it as without basis.
Singapore recently rolled out additional constraints on the 6% of the population that is unvaccinated, most recently not covering their COVID-related medical bills at hospitals or treatment facilities from Dec. 8.
If found guilty of obstructing public servants from doing their duties, Koh could be jailed up to three months and fined S$2,500. For calling on others to do the same, she faces up to five years in jail.
Meanwhile, daily infections remain high but continue to fall, with the seven day average now just under 2,000 cases per day.
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