Sze Kai Xuan (23), who posted a fake bomb threat on a social website in January this year, was sentenced to 18 months’ jail in court on 8 Dec.
Sze posted on tagged.com that he would bomb City Hall on 14 January. Upon being informed of his message, the Public Transport Security Command of the Singapore Police Force immediately dispatched 95% of their manpower to respond to this threat.
The officers were sent to 18 MRT stations along the East-West, North-South and North-East lines, conducting checks and foot patrols at the stations to detect suspicious objects or people.
Sze, a former marketing executive, admitted to posting the message under the user name Constantine S: “Today is the day everyone, cherish it before I bomb City Hall,” he wrote on the post.
Because of the Jakarta bombing attacks that occurred at 11.40am, the police were on high alert that day. Police officers had received a report about Sze’s post at 12.35pm, less than an hour from the attacks in Indonesia.
Channel News Asia reported that District Judge Ho said, “Until such time as the authorities are able to determine that the threat is false, any threat made has to be treated as genuine.”
“Resources, whether manpower, equipment or time, and most importantly, attention, are expended in investigating false bomb threats.”
Police officers had to deviate from their work schedules to respond to the bomb threat, which affected their day-to-day duties, District Judge Ho said in the court.
“The net effect was a severe drain on the Public Transport Security Command’s resources.”
“When the sentinels’ focus was diverted to responding to false threats, valuable attention was removed from guarding against actual threats of terror attacks, thereby endangering all of us,” he said.
Sze’s lawyer Chia Boon Teck had pleaded the court to consider probation, citing his age, cooperation with the authorities and excellent national service record.
District Judge Ho said he has noted his ‘excellent national service record’ and took it into consideration, but he emphasized that it was ‘vital to send a clear message to all potential offenders that bomb hoaxes and threats of terror attacks will be punished with substantial custodial sentences’.
“Against this backdrop of a fraught security climate, bomb hoaxes clearly exploit general apprehension and anxiety. Such reprehensible conduct must be strongly punished and deterred. Singapore faces an ever-present terror threat that is at its highest level in recent times,” said District Judge Ho.
Sze claimed that he was frustrated with the long academic route that he had to take, compared to those who did not have to go through National Service; he has lodged an appeal and currently is on bail.