Shangri-La shooting: Police 'acted in line with procedure'

Police inspecting the car which crashed through security barriers near the Shangri-La Hotel on May 31.
Police inspecting the car which crashed through security barriers near the Shangri-La Hotel on May 31. ST FILE PHOTO

Measures taken by police when they shot at a car that crashed through security barriers near the Shangri-La Hotel in May were "precise", and their effect limited to the vehicle and persons in it, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said yesterday.

The incident, which occurred during the Shangri-La Dialogue security summit, left the car driver, Mohamad Taufik Zahar, 34, dead. The two passengers were arrested and drugs were found in the car.

Mr Hri Kumar Nair (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC) had asked about the incident, as well as security measures in place during the summit.

Mr Teo said the vehicle and persons in it were acting in a "non-compliant, aggressive and threatening manner", and the use of lethal force was provided for under the Criminal Procedure Code.

He noted that in the current security climate, such an event, attended by top defence officials from around the world, was a prime target for terrorists.

Therefore, a high security protection level was adopted for it.

Police conducted a series of road blocks and checks on persons and vehicles at and around the hotel during May 28-31, and set up six stations for checks on people and five stations to make sure vehicles were not carrying dangerous weapons or explosives.

Mr Teo noted that explosives have been the most prevalent type of weapon used in attacks, accounting for over 60 per cent of all incidents globally. Car bombs in the Middle East have resulted in heavy death tolls, while closer to home, the Jemaah Islamiah terror network planned to use truck bombs against installations here.

The 2002 Bali bombings and 2003 attack on the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta also involved vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, he added. "These are all sober reminders that Singapore is not immune to this threat."

Mr Teo also outlined the multi-stage approach police took to deter car bombs when warranted.

There are traffic signs near affected areas to alert motorists to road closures and checks, measures like concrete blocks to get vehicles to slow down, and a line of concrete barriers or police land rovers to impede drivers who might attempt to evade checks. Armed police officers are also deployed.

However, in a situation where a driver ignores repeated orders to stop and crashes through barriers, threatening lives, police procedure is to open fire at the driver to neutralise the threat immediately, to prevent it from causing danger to people at the event, Mr Teo said.

A coroner's inquiry into the driver's death will also be conducted in the coming months. The Home Affairs Ministry is also reviewing the incident thoroughly, to ensure police measures continue to be effective in deterring and dealing with security threats.

Correction note: An earlier version of the story stated the name of man who was shot dead as Mohamed Taufik Zahar instead of Mohamad Taufik Zahar. This has been corrected. 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 14, 2015, with the headline 'Shangri-La shooting: Police 'acted in line with procedure''. Subscribe