Updated: 04/23/2014 02:11

Malaysian who breached Woodlands Checkpoint security on Apr 13 jailed

Koh Chin Had (© Photo: ICA)

Koh Chin Had (Photo: ICA)

The Malaysian driver who was charged last Monday with failing to stop his car for immigration clearance at the Woodlands Checkpoint, has been sentenced to 8 weeks' jail. 

42-year-old Koh Chin Had is the third motorist to be arrested this year for breaching security at Woodlands Checkpoint. 

Koh faces two charges - one for failing to stop his vehicle at the Woodlands Checkpoint on Sunday (13 April), and the second for failing to present his passport to authorities. 

The Prosecution proceeded with the first charge and took the second charge into consideration. 

Koh pleaded guilty and in mitigation, said that he did not have any intention to enter into Singapore, that he did not have his passport with him, and that he had lost his way in Malaysia.

Investigations revealed that on the morning of 13 April 2014, Koh was in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, and travelling on Malaysian roads in his vehicle. 

He intended to drive from his house located in Johor Bahru to a temple within Johor Bahru to pray. 

But he lost his way and found himself at the Johor Bahru (Malaysia) Immigration Checkpoint. 

Koh did not have his Malaysia passport at that time. 

He then stopped at one of the Johor Bahru Immigration Checkpoint and informed the officer that he wanted to u-turn back towards Malaysia and that he did not carry his passport with him. 

He was instructed to report to the Malaysian Police in the vicinity of the Johor Bahru Immigration Checkpoint. 

But Koh did not report to any Malaysian Police and instead, headed towards Singapore's Woodlands Checkpoint. 

When he arrived at Woodlands Checkpoint, he joined the queue at Arrival Car Counter 12 of the Arrival Car Section. 

Deputy Public Prosecutor Teo Lu Jia said Koh knew that he was at the Singapore Checkpoint, since the signage in the area and uniforms worn by the officers look different from those in the Johor Bahru (Malaysia) Immigration Checkpoint. 

Besides, Koh had entered Singapore via Woodlands Checkpoint on at least 3 other occasions, and thus knew that he was required to stop his vehicle at an authorised point of entry. 

At about 12.22 pm, when the accused arrived at the Arrival Car Counter 12 of the Arrival Car Section, he tailgated the vehicle in front of him. 

When the vehicle in front of him drove pass the drop arm barrier which was lifted up, the accused quickly drove his vehicle forward as well, and passed Counter 12 without stopping his vehicle at the authorised point of entry. 

The Immigration Officer at Counter 12 noticed the evasion and immediately pressed the panic button, which caused the arrival car zone to be locked down. 

With his car trapped within the Arrival Car Section, Koh was located and arrested accordingly. 

DPP Teo told the court on Tuesday that Koh's case is one of four cases of evasion of immigration clearance in the mere span of 4 months - the latest of which occurred on April 21 at the Woodlands Checkpoint. 

DPP Teo added that the traffic jam resulting from Koh's arrest at the Arrival Car Section was also a waste of time and resources.

So DPP Teo pushed for a deterrent sentence of 8 weeks' jail. 

When District Judge Lee Poh Choo asked Koh why he tailgated the vehicle in front of him, he said it was the first time he had lost his way while driving, and he was feeling "frightened". 

But Judge Lee rejected Koh's excuses, since he had entered Singapore on at least 3 other previous occasions and knew that he had to stop to produce his passport for immigration clearance. 

As there has been an increasing number of non-Singaporeans trying to evade immigration clearance this year, she agrees that a deterrent sentence is warranted to send a message that border security is important, and that offenders who evade immigration clearance must be punished appropriately. 

With that, she imposed a sentence of 8 weeks' jail on Koh.

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