AGC drops chargest against Malaysian in checkpoint breach

The Malaysian school teacher who was arrested three days after she slipped past immigration officers at Woodlands Checkpoint has reunited with her family.

Ms Nurul Rohana Ishak was released from Changi Women's Prison and sent home last Friday after all charges against her were withdrawn by the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC).

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Dwayne Lum told the court that the AGC had decided not to proceed with the case against the 27-year-old "on account of her mental illness".

But due to the "seriousness of the offences", a discharge not amounting to an acquittal was granted.

Ms Nurul was also issued with a conditional warning by the police not to commit similar offences again in the future.

The court heard that she accepted the warning, which stipulates that the charges would be resurrected if she re-offends within 12 months.

Noting that such a case was unprecedented here, Ms Nurul's lawyer, Mr Abraham Vergis, praised the outcome as one that is "legally sound and morally right".

His client, a native of Kedah state, had entered Singapore illegally on Jan 17 and was arrested only three days later.

Three charges were brought against her: criminal trespass, and two immigration charges for failing to present her passport for examination and failing to stop her vehicle.

A psychiatric assessment by the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) on Feb 21, however, found her to be suffering from schizophrenia and unfit to make a plea.

The report also indicated that she suffers from auditory hallucinations and was under the belief that she was being persecuted at the time of the offences.

The decision to withdraw all three charges was made "after careful consideration of this report and all the relevant facts of this case", said DPP Lum.

Present in court last Friday to receive the news were Ms Nurul's stepmother, Madam Sharifah Shafie, and Malaysian Deputy High Commissioner Kamsiah Kamaruddin.

Joy and relief played openly across Madam Sharifah's smiling face as court proceedings concluded.

"I'm happy, because this is over," said the 49-year-old cook. "I will give her a hug and prepare a meal for her."

Ms Kamsiah said the Malaysian High Commission here "is extremely pleased and grateful with the decision of the court".

"We have been working with Nurul and her family and all the authorities here from the very beginning to ensure that her privacy and her interests are protected," she said.

"The High Commission wants to thank all the authorities here in Singapore, particularly the IMH for taking excellent care of Nurul, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority and the police for their compassion... and also the court and the DPP for their wisdom and judgment."

The High Commission is also providing consular assistance to Malaysian Tan Chu Seng, 64, who was arrested after breaching border security at Woodlands last Saturday.

Tan, who is accused of committing a rash act by reckless driving and vandalism after he damaged a security barrier, is due to appear in court on Monday.

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