Tuesday 11 March 2014

Man in Woodlands checkpoint breach charged

Man who allegedly crashed through Woodlands Checkpoint charged
By Claire Huang, Channel NewsAsia, 10 Mar 2014

The 64-year-old Malaysian driver who allegedly crashed through the security barrier at Woodlands Checkpoint and entered Singapore on Saturday is facing two charges.

Tan Chu Seng, who is also a Singapore permanent resident, is accused of committing two offences -- one count of acting rashly and another of vandalism.

As he arrived at the State Courts, Tan was all smiles as he greeted the media from the police car.

He was arrested on Saturday some five hours after he allegedly breached security at the Woodlands Checkpoint at about 4pm.

On Monday, Tan was charged with one count of acting rashly, by driving his Singapore-registered Mercedes-Benz recklessly and hurting officer Safie Mahrom.

He is alleged to have done so while driving through the arrival car channel and trying to escape vehicle inspection, and for that, Tan is looking at a maximum penalty of a jail term of one year and S$5,000 fine.

Tan faces a second charge of vandalism for allegedly damaging government property when driving his car onto the cat-claw security barrier just before he entered Singapore.

If convicted of vandalism, Tan can be jailed up to three years or fined a maximum of S$2,000.

Both alleged offences are said to have been committed at Woodlands Checkpoint, after his arrival from Malaysia.

During the speedy court session, the prosecution asked for Tan to be further remanded in jail for one week to assist with police investigations.

But Tan requested to be remanded for only four days, citing health reasons including diabetes and hypertension.

The court has asked Tan to raise the issue with the investigating officer.

The case will be mentioned again on March 17.

DPM Teo chides ICA for checkpoint breach
By Toh Yong Chuan, The Straits Times, 10 Mar 2014

THE Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) was rapped by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean yesterday for a second checkpoint breach in two months.

On Saturday, a 64-year-old Singapore permanent resident drove a car over a security barrier at the Woodlands Checkpoint at 4.05pm, sparking a manhunt which ended with the man being nabbed five hours later at 9.15pm.

The police said yesterday that the man is under investigation for "a package suspected to contain drugs". Two of his Singaporean associates were picked up by the police, and two Malaysians were stopped from leaving Singapore. The four are now helping with investigations, police said.

The failure of the security barrier to stop the car - a 24-year-old Mercedes-Benz sedan - drew a sharp rebuke from DPM Teo.

Referring to a breach at the same checkpoint on Jan 17, when a Malaysian teacher slipped past officers by tailgating a car, Mr Teo said the latest case reinforces the findings of a review which showed that "the alarm and barrier systems at the checkpoints are inadequate, and they need to be improved and strengthened considerably".

The procedures and training also need to be "improved sharply", he said in a statement.

Mr Teo, who is also the Home Affairs Minister overseeing the ICA, added: "I have directed the commissioner of the ICA to implement measures to better secure our checkpoints as soon as possible."

The commissioner "will also review if there are further enhancements needed" after the latest breach.

Mr Teo noted that the police had followed standard operating procedures by putting out an "immediate alert", and roping in taxi drivers to look for the car and driver. The Criminal Investigation Department was also activated.

"Police will study whether further improvements can be made in tracking down such cases."

The suspect, a Malaysian national, will be charged in court today.

ICA investigating why barrier failed to stop car
Police explain why they took 5 hours to nab suspect; 4 others being probed
By Toh Yong Chuan, The Straits Times, 10 Mar 2014

A CAR could not be stopped by a security barrier at the Woodlands Checkpoint, and the authorities are now looking into how this could have happened, even as it emerged that drugs could be behind the breach on Saturday.

The police yesterday explained why it took five hours to nab the suspect, saying that although they had called him on his mobile phone, he threw them off the scent by "driving across various parts of Singapore and switching to another vehicle".

"This was a determined criminal; he clearly was out to evade arrest," police director of operations Lau Peet Meng said in a media briefing yesterday. "We are not looking for someone who is just walking down Orchard Road."

On Saturday, the suspect - a 64-year-old Malaysian who has Singapore permanent residency - drove his Singapore-registered Mercedes-Benz sedan into the checkpoint for immigration clearance at 3.53pm.

He was stopped for a boot check at 4.02pm, but suddenly drove away with the boot still open. He mounted a kerb to overtake another car as he dashed for the exit, said the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA).

An auxiliary police officer "smashed" the right window of the 24-year-old car's back passenger seat, and a security barrier near the exit was raised, the ICA said in a statement.

The barrier punctured both the front tyres of the vehicle, but did not stop the car from driving over it and speeding away, it said.

It was the first time the barrier failed to stop a car, ICA Deputy Commissioner Aw Kum Cheong said yesterday, adding that the authority is reviewing why the barrier was ineffective.

Installed in 2006, the 30cm-high barrier was "crash-tested" during installation, where it stopped a pickup truck, said Mr Aw. It also barred an unauthorised car from leaving the checkpoint in 2012.

The ICA would not say how much the barrier system cost.

Meanwhile, the police also revealed that the driver is under investigation for drug offences, as a "package suspected to contain drugs" was found.

They would not say where and how the package was found, or how it was connected to the checkpoint breach.

But they added that four men associated with the suspect are "assisting the authorities in the investigation", police parlance for people who were questioned but not named as suspects yet.

Two are Singaporeans picked up by the police, and the other two are Malaysians who were stopped from leaving Singapore by car and bus.

Police also declined to say how the suspect, who uses the Woodlands Checkpoint almost daily - according to the ICA - is linked to the four men, citing ongoing investigations.

The latest breach comes barely two months after a similar incident on Jan 17 involving Malaysian teacher Nurul Rohana Ishak, 27, who slipped past immigration officers at Woodlands Checkpoint. She was arrested three days later and now faces charges, including that of criminal trespass.

Hours after the second breach, a video - which showed the car, with the right window of its rear passenger seat intact, taking less than 20 seconds to drive over the barrier - was posted online.

The ICA did not dispute the authenticity of the video, which appeared to have been recorded using a smartphone off a computer showing the CCTV recording.

But the authorities warned that the video leak is now under an Official Secrets Act investigation, and the clip should not be circulated.

Although the police and ICA said the suspect will be charged in court today, they did not specify the charges he will face.

Benz driver crashed through checkpoint
Police recover vehicle and nab 65-year-old man following islandwide operation
By Carolyn Khew, The Sunday Times, 9 Mar 2014

The Singapore-registered Mercedes-Benz had arrived from Malaysia at about 4.05pm and cleared the immigration check when its driver drove off while undergoing Customs checks.

An officer who attempted to stop him from leaving was injured, police said in a joint statement with the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.

The vehicle then crashed through the security barrier that was activated and entered Singapore.

All police resources on the ground were alerted. A message was sent to all taxi drivers to help look out for the vehicle.

At 8.30pm, police recovered the golden Mercedes-Benz. They later arrested a 65-year-old man at 9.15pm after an islandwide police operation.

He is under investigation for various offences including evasion of Customs checks and vandalism.

Malaysian teacher Nurul Rohana Ishak, 27, entered Singapore illegally by tailgating a car and slipping past immigration officers at Woodlands Checkpoint.

She was arrested three days later when she entered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs compound without authorisation.

A psychiatric assessment later found her to be of unsound mind and unfit to make a plea. She now faces charges including criminal trespass.

* Second checkpoint breach: Suspect remanded at IMH
By Elena Chong, The Straits Times, 17 Mar 2014

THE 64-year-old motorist accused of breaching a security barrier at Woodlands Checkpoint was remanded for psychiatric assessment yesterday.

Tan Chu Seng, a Malaysian, was charged with committing a rash act and vandalism last week for driving his Singapore-registered car recklessly, causing injury to police officer Safie Mahrom.

The Singapore permanent resident is said to have damaged the cat-claw security barrier when he drove into it. This, after he had apparently driven through the checkpoint at around 4pm on March 8 after being stopped for a boot check.

The security barrier failed to work, which - the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority said - had never happened before.

Tan was represented by Mr Jeffrey Ong, who has been hired by his family. Mr Ong did not object to the prosecution's application to remand Tan at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH). He will return to court on March 31.

If convicted of committing a rash act, Tan could be jailed for up to one year and/or fined up to $5,000. For vandalism, the maximum penalty is a $2,000 fine or three years in jail.

The case against Tan comes after the Attorney-General's Chambers decided last week to withdraw its charges against Malaysian school teacher Nurul Rohana Ishak "on account of her mental illness". She was instead issued with a conditional warning by the police not to commit similar offences again in the future.

Ms Nurul was arrested three days after she slipped past immigration at Woodlands Checkpoint on Jan 17, and faced charges for criminal trespass, failing to present her passport for examination and failing to stop her car.

A psychiatric assessment at IMH on Feb 21, however, found her to be suffering from schizophrenia and unfit to make a plea.

** Man who drove over barrier at checkpoint jailed
By Elena Chong, The Straits Times, 20 Sep 2014

A MALAYSIAN trader who forced his way through the Woodlands Checkpoint while trying to evade Customs checks was jailed for 10 months yesterday and fined $1,400 for mischief and other offences.

Tan Chu Seng, 64, was the fourth person in four months to have breached checkpoint security, the court heard.

Last month, he pleaded guilty to five of seven charges, two of which involved selling duty-unpaid cigarettes.

The Singapore permanent resident was also ordered to pay $2,800 for damage caused to "cat claw" barriers, which are meant to stop cars in their tracks, but failed in that instance.

On March 8, after Tan cleared immigration, he proceeded to the green channel for a car inspection. But before the checks were completed, he drove off, hitting a safety cone which became stuck under the front bumper of his Mercedes-Benz. As he sped away, he hit one of the five officers trying to stop him, and rammed into the raised cat claws, which ultimately gave way.

The father of four turned himself in that evening.

Tan's lawyer S. Radakrishnan said his client was dealing in sewing machines, and occasionally earned a commission as a deliveryman for ferrying tailored suits between Singapore and Malaysia.

That day, he was running late for his delivery. His mind was preoccupied with getting the five suits delivered on time and he was also anxious to get some food, said the lawyer.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Daphne Lim said, however, that Tan had engaged in a "highly deliberate and calculated course of conduct" - his behaviour manifested a total disregard of authority; injuries were caused to an officer; and damage was caused to government property. District Judge Ng Peng Hong agreed with Ms Lim that a strong message must be sent that those evading security and Customs checks would be harshly dealt with.

Between January and April, three others were arrested for security breaches at Woodlands. A Malaysian poultry seller was given eight weeks' jail in April while a teacher, who was found to be mentally ill, was given a conditional warning for slipping past the checkpoint early this year.

A Malaysian technician who entered Singapore at Woodlands Checkpoint in April without presenting his passport was also jailed for six weeks.

In Tan's case, it later turned out that leaking hydraulic fluid was to blame for the cat claw system's failure, and the authorities announced that security barriers at the Woodlands Checkpoint would get new hydraulic components, and be checked daily to prevent similar breaches.

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