Soldier held for joking about bomb at Sarawak's Kuching airport

KUCHING - Malaysian police have arrested an army lance-corporal for joking about a bomb in his luggage at Sarawak's Kuching International Airport.

Kuching police chief Asst Comm Abang Ahmad Abang Julai said the 25-year-old soldier told an airline employee that he had a bomb in his luggage when checking in for a flight to Kota Baru at about 10.15am on Thursday (July 21).

He said the man had five pieces of baggage to check in and when asked what was in the third one, he said that there was a bomb in it and he was going to bomb the aircraft.

"The airline employee asked the question twice and was given the same answer. He then informed his supervisor and lodged a police report.

"A team from the Kuching police headquarters, including the bomb unit, rushed to the airport to investigate. Upon questioning, the suspect said he was only joking.

"However, we take this matter seriously," ACP Abang Ahmad told a press conference here.

He said police inspected the suspect's luggage thoroughly and found no bomb among its contents, which included "terubok" (salted fish) and "kek lapis" (layer cake).

"By noon, we assured the airport management that the airport was safe and operations could continue as normal," he said, adding that three flights were delayed while police were conducting the checks.

The suspect will be brought to court Friday to be remanded. He will be investigated for inciting fear under Section 506 of the Penal Code, which carries a two-year jail sentence or a fine or both upon conviction.

ACP Abang Ahmad said this was the first such case in Sarawak and he hoped it would not occur again.

He urged the public not to make jokes about bombs, especially in the wake of terrorist attacks in airports overseas.

"This is not the time to joke about things like this. It's a serious matter," he added.