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Teo Chee Hean, Security

Police, immigration officers involved in checkpoint breach to face disciplinary action

Published on Feb 17, 2014 2:40 PM
 
Immigration and police officers did not follow protocol and made an error of judgment by classifying the breach of border security by a Malaysian teacher as a less serious immigration offence. -- ST FILE PHOTO:  LIM SIN THAI

Immigration and police officers did not follow protocol and made an error of judgment by classifying the breach of border security by a Malaysian teacher as a less serious immigration offence.

As a result, ground forces were not alerted to the incident and patrol cars were not directed to mount road blocks at possible travel routes of the car in major parts of Singapore. The officers from the police and Immigrations and Checkpoints Authority responsible for the lapses at more than two levels of security have since been redeployed and face disciplinary action, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean in Parliament on Monday.

He revealed those and more details of the border breach in response to five questions filed by MPs. Kedah state native Nurul Ruhana Ishak, 28, evaded Woodlands immigrations officers on Jan 17, and was only arrested three days later. She has been charged with criminal trespass.

When Nurul slipped past the first check by tailgating a car, the immigration officer concerned consulted another officer and hesitated, and took 2.5 minutes to sound the alarm instead of sounding it immediately, said Mr Teo. The second auxiliary police officer tasked with conducting boot checks and counting vehicle passengers subsequently did not stop Nurul's car nor did he sound the alarm.

"I do not know the reason why, they're not new officers and have been in the service for some years," said Mr Teo. "Looking at their records, they have been in general good officers."

Their poor responses were compounded by the "serious error of judgment" made by two ground commanders from ICA and Police "in deciding to treat this intrusion as a less serious immigration offence, instead of a serious breach of border security, as required in the protocol".

This in turn meant that the police "did not put out high level and persistent alerts to all ground forces", nor were Nurul's particulars and those of her car circulated.

No passport or identification was found on her during her arrest on Jan 20, when she tried to force her way into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs compound while in her red Perodua hatchback. That led to the trespass charge.

She has been in remand at the Institute of Mental Health since, and is due to appear in court for the first time on Feb 26.