Brief shutdown of Hougang MRT station, man left bag unattended arrested

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On Sunday afternoon (2 April), Hougang MRT station experienced a brief shutdown triggered by security fears originating from an unknown unattended bag found at the station.

At 2.45pm, the police were alerted to a case of an unattended bag at the train platform of Hougang MRT station. Officers from the Ang Mo Kio Police Division and Public Transport Security Command, with the assistance of SBS Transit, quickly traced the owner of the bag. He was arrested at Hougang MRT at about 4.35 pm.

Image of cordoned off area with blue luggage pre-removal in the right corner at est. 1600h. (Source: Ong Jia Cheng) / photo: Maximilian‏ twitter

Preliminary investigations revealed that the man had intentionally left his bag inside Hougang MRT station while he ran an errand.

The police arrested the 39-year-old man for an offence of Public Nuisance under the Penal Code although the bag was later established to contain only household items.

Alfred Chua, a netizen, posted a video of the arrest on his twitter:

According to SBS Transit, which operates the North-East Line (NEL), commuters were told that all NEL trains would not stop at Hougang station due to a ‘security incident’.

"For the safety of all passengers, trains were made to bypass Hougang station and the Police were alerted," the transport operator said.

Then at close to 4.00pm, the bag was opened and its contents found to be non-dangerous. SBS Transit said train service resumed at 4.03pm at Hougang Station.

Police said investigations are still ongoing, “The police treat all security threats seriously and will not hesitate to take action against anyone who intentionally cause public alarm,” it said in a statement.

The police also reminded the public not to leave personal belongings unattended and to report any suspicious items or behaviour to the MRT staff or the police immediately. “We commend the staff of SBS Transit for their vigilance in handling this incident,” the police said.

Netizens were initially confused by the SBS Transit’s tweet of the closing of the Hougang station, which they found unclear.

Some comments of the netizens on this twitter post:

CLEMENT‏ wrote: “What is the incident. Really senseless way u report things. U said security issue keep quiet about it at people not to question about security.”

Williamchan wrote:‏ “Please be more specific, what security incident?”

Muhd Muzammin‏ wrote: “Why?”

At 4:16 pm SBS Transit informed that the NEL sevice has resumed:

After news got around about the security incident, and that the NEL service has resumed, here are some of the netizens' response:

®™‏ commented: “No need to apologize. when it comes to security, everyone play a part.”

Darryl Kang‏  wrote: “Good job guys. Glad that it is a false alarm :)”

Patricia Lim‏ wrote: “Better be safe than sorry.”