Friday, 21 October 2016

Singaporeans, behave yourself when overseas: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

MFA reminds Singaporeans to behave while abroad
By Melissa Lin, The Straits Times, 20 Oct 2016

Behave yourself when you are overseas: That is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' (MFA) reminder to Singaporeans following a string of arrests of citizens abroad.

The MFA reminded Singaporeans to respect and abide by local laws and regulations when they go abroad, in a travel note put up on its website yesterday.

This is the first such reminder by the ministry.

The Straits Times understands there are concerns as, in recent months, Singaporeans have been arrested overseas for immigration and drug-related offences.

In the note, the MFA said that violation of foreign laws could lead to immediate arrests and detentions and, in some countries, the judicial process could take months.

Singaporeans convicted of offences overseas could face heavy fines and/or long prison sentences, and in the case of drug-related offences, even capital punishment.

The MFA added that it will render appropriate consular assistance to Singaporeans who are arrested and detained overseas. This includes notifying their next of kin.

"However, MFA cannot intervene in the legitimate law enforcement and judicial workings of another country," it said, adding that Singaporeans should exercise due care and personal responsibility when travelling overseas.

The reminder follows several recent arrests of Singaporeans overseas.

Last month, a Singaporean man was nabbed for drug trafficking in Bali, Indonesia, after he picked up two packages at a post office that contained crystal meth and cocaine.

He claimed he did not know what was in the packages and was collecting them on behalf of a friend.

In August, a Singaporean woman and her two teenage children were detained at a Johor Baru checkpoint after she allegedly made a vulgar hand gesture at a Malaysian immigration officer and shouted vulgarities while sounding the car horn repeatedly.

Other Singaporeans have also been charged for offences at immigration checkpoints.

This includes one case of a man who grabbed the hand of an immigration officer.

He was later charged with obstructing the officer from performing his duty.

Others were detained for using their mobile phones and wearing headphones at immigration checkpoints, and refusing to cooperate with officers.

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