Two immigration officers who failed to stop a Malaysian teacher at both levels of checks at the Woodlands checkpoint, allowing her to slip into Singapore illegally, have been redeployed and face disciplinary action.
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean revealed those and more details of the border breach in Parliament on Monday 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 slow response compounded the “serious error of judgment” made by multiple agencies when grounds officers “decided to treat [the incident] as a less serious immigrations offence” rather than a “major security breach”.
This in turn meant that the police “did not put out high level and persistent alerts to all ground forces”, nor was 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.