Malaysian woman jailed for driving through Woodlands checkpoint without passport

SINGAPORE - A Malaysian woman who drove through Woodlands immigration checkpoint without a valid passport was sentenced to four weeks' jail on Friday.

A court heard that Chong Jing Jing, 34, had driven from her home in Perak, Malaysia on June 30. Her passport had expired, however, so instead of stopping at the immigration counter, she tailgated the vehicle in front of her and drove through the barrier.

The officer manning the counter activated the alarm system, bringing traffic at the checkpoint to a halt.

Immigration officers went after Chong, finally locating her Malaysia-registered pink Perodua Axia in the arrival section.

When a checkpoint inspector directed Chong to switch off the engine, unlock the doors and step out of the car, she ignored him. Instead, she closed her eyes and pretended to be asleep.

After repeated attempts to order her out of the car, the officers finally managed to break into the vehicle and arrested her.

Chong, an administrator in an Ipoh music school,walked free on Friday after District Judge Liew Thiam Leng backdated her sentence to July 2, when she first entered remand.

The judge said her offences were "relatively serious" but noted that she had pleaded guilty and already been in remand for four weeks.

Chong, a slight woman who spoke in Mandarin, started wailing upon hearing the backdated sentence. As she was led out of court by officers, she sobbed repeatedly: "Thank you, Your Honour! Thank you for letting me go!"

For failing to present her passport, Chong could have been jailed up to six months, fined $1,000, or both. For obstructing the duty of an immigration officer, she could have been jailed up to 12 months, fined $4,000 or both.

oliviaho@sph.com.sg