A MALAYSIAN trader who forced his way through the Woodlands Checkpoint while trying to evade Customs checks was jailed for 10 months yesterday and fined $1,400 for mischief and other offences.
Tan Chu Seng, 64, was the fourth person in four months to have breached checkpoint security, the court heard.
Last month, he pleaded guilty to five of seven charges, two of which involved selling duty-unpaid cigarettes.
The Singapore permanent resident was also ordered to pay $2,800 for damage caused to "cat claw" barriers, which are meant to stop cars in their tracks, but failed in that instance.
On March 8, after Tan cleared immigration, he proceeded to the green channel for a car inspection.
But before the checks were completed, he drove off, hitting a safety cone which became stuck under the front bumper of his Mercedes-Benz.
As he sped away, he hit one of the five officers trying to stop him, and rammed into the raised cat claws, which ultimately gave way.
The father of four turned himself in that evening.
Tan's lawyer S. Radakrishnan said his client was dealing in sewing machines, and occasionally earned a commission as a deliveryman for ferrying tailored suits between Singapore and Malaysia.
That day, he was running late for his delivery. His mind was preoccupied with getting the five suits delivered on time and he was also anxious to get some food, said the lawyer.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Daphne Lim said, however, that Tan had engaged in a "highly deliberate and calculated course of conduct" - his behaviour manifested a total disregard of authority; injuries were caused to an officer; and damage was caused to government property.
District Judge Ng Peng Hong agreed with Ms Lim that a strong message must be sent that those evading security and Customs checks would be harshly dealt with.
Between January and April, three others were arrested for security breaches at Woodlands.
A Malaysian poultry seller was given eight weeks' jail in April while a teacher, who was found to be mentally ill, was given a conditional warning for slipping past the checkpoint early this year.
A Malaysian technician who entered Singapore at Woodlands Checkpoint in April without presenting his passport was also jailed for six weeks.
In Tan's case, it later turned out that leaking hydraulic fluid was to blame for the cat claw system's failure, and the authorities announced that security barriers at the Woodlands Checkpoint would get new hydraulic components, and be checked daily to prevent similar breaches.
This article was first published on September 20, 2014.
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