A motorised boat carrying two foreigners sped towards the northern coast of Singapore near Punggol in a bid to gain unlawful entry into the country.
As it neared the shore, a Bangladeshi man, 20, leapt into the waters and swam towards land, while the Malaysian boatman, 46, quickly steered the boat to make a U-turn and return to Malaysian shores.
But out of the blue, a Police Coast Guard (PCG) vessel appeared to intercept the boat, firing visual flares and giving verbal warnings to get the boatman to stop. When he refused, a high-speed chase ensued until the PCG disabled the boat, which then capsized.
The drama, which lasted about a minute, happened on Monday at around 7.40pm. It ended with the arrest of both men for entering Singapore unlawfully.
At a media briefing on Tuesday, the PCG gave details of the operation, including the arrest of the Bangladeshi man by its Special Task Squadron deployed on the shores of Punggol Barat.
He was found along the fencing surrounding the coastline.
The motorised fibreglass boat and cash amounting to RM3,734 (S$1,240) were seized in the joint operation with the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.
The police said preliminary investigations showed that the Malaysian boatman picked up the Bangladeshi from the shoreline of Johor Baru.
Commander of the Police Coast Guard, Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police Cheang Keng Keong, said: "The PCG will continue to work closely with other agencies to safeguard our waters and sea borders against crime and security threats, including unauthorised entry into and departure from Singapore."
Staff Sergeant Norisham Abu Samah, 40, who was part of a two-men squad in the Coastal Hardening Strike Force, told reporters it was the first time he had encountered such a situation and that he felt a sense of accomplishment.
The two foreigners were charged in court yesterday with illegal entry into Singapore under Section 6(1)(c) of the Immigration Act.
If found guilty, a person can be jailed up to six months and given at least three strokes of the cane.
The boatman is also being investigated for engaging in the business or trade of conveying illegal immigrants to Singapore under Section 57(1)(c) of the Act.
If found guilty, the punishment is a jail term of at least two years and a maximum of five years, plus three strokes of the cane.