Malaysian teacher who slipped past immigration now faces 3 charges

Malaysian teacher Nurul Ruhana Ishak who has been charged with criminal trespass did not show up for her first scheduled court appearance on Wednesday due to medical reasons.

Nurul Ruhana Ishak, a 27-year-old Kedah native, originally faced a single charge of criminal trespass, but two additional charges for failing to present her passport and failing to stop her vehicle upon arrival were read out in court.

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Trespass: Teacher has 'history of mental illness'

By Hoe Pei Shan

Jan 27, 2014

MALAYSIAN school teacher Nurul Ruhana Ishak, who was charged with criminal trespass this week, has a long history of mental illness, said a relative.

Her aunt, Madam Hanifah Che Pi, told a Malaysian newspaper that her 28-year-old niece had to be on medication constantly, or she would suffer from depression.

The Star daily quoted her on Friday saying that Nurul - the eldest of five siblings from Kedah - suffered from depression while she was in university.

Despite her illness, she graduated as a teacher from Universiti Sains Malaysia in 2010, and was most recently teaching at a secondary school in Kuala Lumpur.

When contacted by The Straits Times, the school confirmed that Nurul teaches there, but referred any queries to the Malaysian Education Ministry.

Madam Hanifah, a housewife, said of her niece: "When she is ill, she becomes quiet and has to be spoon-fed. But when she is feeling all right, she is a sweet and intelligent girl."

Nurul had allegedly slipped past immigration officers at the Woodlands Checkpoint last week by tailgating a car.

An alarm was raised two minutes later, and the arrival zone locked down for half an hour, but her Malaysian-registered car had gone by then.

On Monday, she tailgated a taxi for an hour. The cabby told Chinese daily Lianhe Wanbao that Nurul had followed him despite his efforts to shake her off.

On the advice of a passenger, the driver, who was identified as Mr Zhang, 55, called the police and was directed to drive into the Police Cantonment Complex.

There, Nurul managed to give the authorities the slip again.

It was only later the same day, when she entered the compound of Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) without authorisation, that she was eventually apprehended.

No passport or identification was found on Nurul when she was arrested.

Police said on Wednesday that Nurul has been charged with criminal trespass and has been remanded at the Institute of Mental Health for psychiatric assessment.

Deputy High Commissioner Kamsiah Kamaruddin said Nurul's family has been in Singapore since Thursday, but has yet to see her.

She said the Malaysian authorities are looking into how Nurul could have sneaked through the Johor checkpoint.

hpeishan@sph.com.sg

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