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SINGAPORE: A man was fined S$1,000 for spitting at two coffee shop workers when he was told that they could not accept more than five 5-cent coins as payment for a drink.

Roman Tan, 69, pleaded guilty to one count of using criminal force on a cashier and a shop assistant at a coffee shop in Punggol. A second charge of failing to wear a mask properly was taken into consideration.

The court heard that Tan went to a coffee shop at Block 612 Punggol Drive on Feb 10 this year.

He tried to order some drinks, but was not wearing a face mask, so a shop assistant asked him to do so.

Tan left the shop and returned later with a face mask on, before approaching the counter at about 4.40pm to order a drink.

To pay for it, he offered some coins including eight 5-cent coins.

The shop assistant and the cashier told him that they could not accept more than five 5-cent coins in payment, as this was the coffee shop’s policy at the time.

Angered, Tan pulled down his face mask and scolded the two victims in a raised voice. He spat at them multiple times from about a metre away, and the cashier felt some spittle land on her forehead.

Her colleague called the police soon after.

The prosecutor asked for the fine that was eventually meted out, which Tan paid in full.

According to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), currency notes and coins it issues are legal tender in Singapore, and all coin denominations can be used by a customer to make payment, up to a limit of 20 coins per denomination for each transaction. However, if both the vendor and customer agree to use quantities of coins above this limit, they can do so.

This means customers can pay up to S$1 in 5-cent coins.

MAS said on its website that this legal tender limit is to minimise inconvenience to vendors and their waiting customers, should a customer wish to tender a large quantity of coins for payment. The vendor is obliged only to accept coin payments up to this limit and may reject coin payments exceeding this limit.

The Currency Act also allows vendors to set a lower limit, or choose not to accept any denomination of currency coins or notes, provided the vendor gives written notice to customers prior to a transaction. 

For using criminal force, Tan could have been jailed up to three months, fined up to S$1,500, or both.