A look at Woodlands Checkpoint: Singapore's first and last line of defence

A look at Woodlands Checkpoint: Singapore's first and last line of defence
A black labrador sniffing a lorry shipment of cocktail napkins and plastic containers for drugs. The police K9 unit has a permanent detachment at Woodlands Checkpoint that assists the ICA in detecting drugs and explosives.

Officers at Woodlands Checkpoint know one miss can undermine years of vigilance

Woodlands Checkpoint commander Ong Choon Beng has 1,500 goalkeepers at his disposal. That is how he refers to his team of Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officers, who keep a clean sheet for Singapore the way world- class Dane Peter Schmeichel did at football giants Manchester United.

But one miss is enough to undermine years of vigilance. "You can be Peter Schmeichel and save 10,000 goals, but let one through and people say you're kayu (Malay word for 'wooden' meaning silly)," says Assistant Commissioner Ong.

That is why there is never any respite on Singapore's side of the Causeway - one of the world's busiest land immigration checkpoint.

Each day, 350,000 travellers cross the checkpoint, more than at all other entry points to Singapore - land, sea and air - combined. That works out to the country's entire population, every 15 days.

Earlier last week, The Sunday Times got a chance to look behind the security curtain at what AC Ong calls the country's "first and last line of defence" - from the evening rush hour at 7pm to the morning squeeze at 7am.

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