Woodlands Checkpoint breach was the first time security barrier failed to stop a car: ICA

SINGAPORE - The man who drove his old Mercedes-Benz past the Woodlands Checkpoint on Saturday managed to do so because a security barrier meant to stop unauthorised cars from leaving the checkpoint was ineffective.

Mar 10 update: Woodlands Checkpoint breach: Driver charged in Singapore with rash act and vandalism

By Elena Chong

Tan Chu Seng, 64, is accused of committing a rash act by driving the Mercedes-Benz recklessly on Saturday, causing injury to police officer Safie Mahrom. The Singapore permanent resident from Malaysia also faces a single charge of vandalism after he allegedly drove into the cat-claw security barrier, damaging it.

Get the full story from The Straits Times.

Here is a joint press statement released by the Singapore Police Force and Immigration and Checkpoints Authority:

On 8 Mar 2014, a subject in a Singapore-registered vehicle arriving from Malaysia cleared the immigration channel at 3.53PM, and whilst undergoing secondary checks at 4.02PM, deliberately drove off. The alarm and security barrier were immediately activated.

An Auxiliary Police Officer (APO) was injured when he attempted to stop the vehicle.

When the vehicle hit the barrier, the subject continued to step on the accelerator of the vehicle.

He managed to drive over the barrier and left the checkpoint at about 4.05pm.

The front left and right tyres of the vehicle were punctured by the barrier, and the back passenger-side window on the right was also smashed by another APO in the process.

ICA and Police worked closely in the follow-up to the incident to track d own the subject and persons associated with him.

As the subject had already cleared immigration, the identity of the subject and the vehicle registration number were quickly established and disseminated to the Police. All ICA's Checkpoints were alerted to look out for the subject and the vehicle.

Police was notified of the incident the moment the alarm was activated at the checkpoint. Police responded immediately by issuing an island-wide look-out message to all police ground resources to look out for the subject and his vehicle. Police worked closely with ICA and other Home Team agencies to find out more about the subject and those who could be involved with or could have assisted him.

Dedicated resources, including officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and Police Intelligence Department (PID), were also despatched for an island-wide search to locate his whereabouts. Alert messages were sent to all taxi companies to enlist their help to look-out for the vehicle too.

Police chased leads across the island. While Police managed to contact the subject on his mobile phone, he sought to evade checks and arrest by driving across various parts of Singapore and switching to another vehicle.

Police also made contact with the subject and his family, and were able to successfully identify his associates.

At 8.30PM, Police recovered the vehicle, a gold-coloured Mercedes Benz sedan, and at 9.15 PM, arrested the subject, a 64-year old male Singapore Permanent Resident to assist in investigations.

In the course of tracking the subject, Police's investigations also identified four other male persons believed to be associated with the subject. All four are currently assisting the authorities in the investigation.

Two of them, both Malaysians, were stopped from leaving Singapore at the Woodlands Checkpoint. Another two Singaporeans were picked up shortly after the arrest of the subject. A package suspected to contain drugs was also recovered. CNB has sent the package for further tests, and are inv estigating into the case.

The subject will be charged in Court in the morning of 10 March 2014 (Monday).

Timeline of events on March 8, 2014:

3:53pm - Subject sought arrival immigration clearance and then proceeded to secondary check area.

4.02pm - Subject was at secondary check area.

4.03 - 4.05pm- Subject drove over the crash barrier and left checkpoint.

8.30pm - Vehicle recovered by Police.

9.15pm - Subject arrested

Next: DPM Teo says training of officers at checkpoint need improvement

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Teo Chee Hean commented on the incident on Sunday.

DPM Teo said in a statement:

"The incident yesterday reinforces the findings of the review after the January dash-through: The alarm and barrier systems at the checkpoints are inadequate, and they need to be improved and strengthened considerably.

"Furthermore, the response protocols and training of officers at the checkpoint need to be improved sharply in parallel with the physical improvements.

"I have directed Commissioner ICA to implement measures to better secure our checkpoints as soon as possible.

"He will also review if there are further enhancements needed arising from yesterday's incident. In yesterday's incident, Police put out an immediate alert to all Police resources, as well as to taxis, to look out for the vehicle and driver.

"CID was also activated, and Police and ICA worked together to track down the driver.

"This is in accordance with the SOP for such incidents. Police will study whether further improvements can be made in tracking down such cases."