ICA reports fewer contraband, illegal immigrant cases
Smugglers have been using new ways to hide contraband, with more concealing them in luxury cars and even in common household items to avoid detection at checkpoints.
Releasing its statistics for last year yesterday, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said: "These methods of concealment remain a cause for concern, especially in the current security climate, as they could be adopted by terrorists to smuggle dangerous materials into Singapore..."
In August, 2,180 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes were seized from a consignment labelled "children's play mats".
The next month, 347 cartons and 530 packets of cigarettes were found hidden in various parts of a new luxury car.
But the number of contraband cases detected dropped by 8 per cent from 95,677 in 2015 to 88,050 last year.
In February last year, ICA officers at the Woodlands Checkpoint refused entry to four Indonesians - three men and a 15-year-old - at the bus arrival hall. They were believed to have been en route to the Middle East to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and were handed over to Indonesian police.
ICA commissioner Clarence Yeo said: "As the nation's first line of defence, ICA will continue to conduct stringent checks on people, goods and conveyances while enhancing border clearance through innovation, collaboration and partnership."
Fewer illegal immigrants and overstayers were arrested last year.
Following a recent downward trend, the number of illegal immigrants caught dropped from 310 in 2015 to 217 last year, while overstayers fell from 1,591 in 2015 to 1,061 last year.
Fewer homeowners and employers were also found offering lodging and jobs to immigration offenders last year, after a 59 per cent spike the year before.
Last year, 306 harbourers were arrested, down from 416 the year before. The number of errant employers dropped from 91 in 2015 to 45 last year.
Fewer people were convicted of marriage of convenience offences, with the number dropping from 64 in 2015 to 43 last year.
This article by The Straits Times was published in The New Paper, a free newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.