Security officer fined for causing Istana collision injuring MFA perm sec during Kamala Harris visit

The officer, Tan Chee Kiat, 29, was fined $2,500 after pleading guilty on Wednesday to causing hurt through a negligent act. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A Certis Cisco auxiliary police officer raised the security barriers along a road in the Istana without checking if there was a car approaching - causing an accident on the morning of the visit of US Vice-President Kamala Harris.

A car carrying Mr Chee Wee Kiong, the Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs at the time, then crashed into the barriers, called bollards. Mr Chee and the driver of the car suffered multiple fractures.

The permanent secretary was hospitalised for two days with injuries including a sternum and tooth fracture.

The officer, Tan Chee Kiat, 29, was fined $2,500 after pleading guilty on Wednesday to causing hurt through a negligent act.

The court heard that Tan was deployed at a security post in Edinburgh Road - located within the Istana - and was tasked to operate the control panel for the ground bollards mounted along the road.

When activated, the bollards, which are about waist-high, would come out from the ground and block vehicles from passing.

On Aug 23 last year, a car driven by Mr Abdul Latif Karim approached the security post and received clearance to enter Edinburgh Road, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Jaime Pang. 

Ms Harris visited the Istana that day as part of her trip here from Aug 22 to 24 last year. 

At 9.15am, Tan raised the bollards without checking if the car had passed through.

Mr Latif, who was driving the car at around 10kmh, noticed the bollards being raised but was unable to stop in time, leading to a collision, said DPP Pang.

Mr Latif and Mr Chee, who was in the front passenger seat, were hurt and taken to Raffles Hospital for treatment.

Mr Latif, who had a sternum fracture and left knee contusion, was discharged the next day.

Investigations found that Tan, as the operator of the bollards, was required to look out for vehicles when raising the barriers.

DPP Pang, who sought a fine for Tan, said: "When he activated the bollards, the accused had failed to conduct such a visual inspection and assumed that the car had passed the bollards, thus resulting in the collision."

She added: "Raising the bollards without checking was an act which was so negligent as to endanger the personal safety of others."

Defence lawyer Wee Qianliang told the court that Tan was fired after the incident and is currently unemployed.

He added the control panel was positioned such that Tan's back would be facing the road where the cars travelled. Tan immediately offered to help the victims and had written apology letters to them.

He said Tan had received multiple commendations in the past for his performance at work and intends to find a job after the case concludes.

Both victims have fully recovered from their injuries, said Mr Wee, adding that Tan was remorseful.

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