In what is seen as a serious lapse in border security, the woman, who is believed to be from Kuala Lumpur, had driven past the checkpoint without being stopped by the immigration authorities and gave them the slip despite a lockdown of the car arrival zone.
According to the TODAY newspaper:
“Three days later, police officers failed to recognise the woman or her car despite an islandwide alert, when they encountered her while helping a taxi driver whom she tailgated all the way to the Police Cantonment Complex. Barely an hour later on the same day, the woman drove her car into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Sherwood Road premises and drove around the compound without authorisation, after slipping past the security post by tailgating a vehicle in front.
“She was stopped when her car was boxed in by two vehicles driven by MFA security officers.”
DPM Teo said, in response to the incident:
“I have expressed my deep dissatisfaction to the Commissioner of ICA and the Commissioner of Police over the breach at Woodlands Checkpoint and the subsequent response actions. This case should have been prevented and dealt with more urgently and decisively as it could have resulted in more serious consequences than what occurred. I have directed the Commissioners to report to me the corrective actions they are taking, and recommend appropriate action to be taken against officers who have not discharged their duties properly.”
In a joint-statement on Tuesday, the Immigrations and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) and the Singapore Police, said the woman “has a history of mental illness” and that she is being investigated for evading immigration. It is reported that she is also being investigated for criminal trespass.
“With the assistance of the Malaysian High Commission and the Royal Malaysia Police, we have since contacted her next-of-kin in Malaysia who are on their way down to Singapore to assist in our investigation,” the statement said.
The woman had apparently entered Singapore on 17 Jan in a Malaysian-registered red Perodua at Woodlands Checkpoint at about 1.58pm. She then left the checkpoint 2 minutes later.
“The subject had managed to leave the checkpoint without being stopped,” the authorities said, “as the officers-in-charge did not immediately raise the alarm. By the time the alarm was raised 2 minutes later, efforts to locate the car in Woodlands checkpoint were unsuccessful despite an immediate lock down of the arrival car zone.”
After lockdown, which lasted 30 minutes, the police issued an islandwide alert to its officers to keep a lookout for the vehicle. It also reviewed closed-circuit television footage from the Land Transport Authority to trace the vehicle.
It was apparently only 3 days later, when she entered the MFA premises by tailgating a car, according to news reports, that she was arrested.
“On Monday, at 1.32pm, the police received a call from a taxi driver who reported that a woman was tailgating him. The police advised him to drive to the Police Cantonment Complex and the woman followed him. At the complex, police officers tried to talk to her, but she drove away. About an hour later, she was arrested at the MFA compound after the ministry called the police. The woman was “unresponsive” when nabbed, the police added.”
The ICA-Police statement said: “Even though there is no immediate threat to public safety, ICA and Police take this case very seriously as it concerns the security of our borders.”
Deputy Commissioner of ICA Mr Aw Kum Cheong said: “This is a very serious lapse in our border security and we are disappointed by this incident. We will do a thorough investigation to prevent a similar occurrence. We will learn from the incident and further strengthen our security measures at the checkpoints to prevent a similar occurrence. “Mr Raja Kumar,
Deputy Commissioner of Police added: “There is existing coordination between SPF and ICA at the Checkpoints to deal with potential threats. Police will work with ICA to study how we could further improve our incident response processes.”