A man who left a luggage bag at Hougang MRT station, causing a security scare was fined the maximum $1,000 after he pleaded guilty to causing public nuisance on Friday (9 June).
Wang Jianpo, 40, a Chinese national working as a construction worker here, was convicted on one count of causing public nuisance after he caused Hougang MRT station to be shut down for 85 minutes.
On 2 April around 2.10pm, Wang left a blue luggage unattended at the train platform of the station. A couple spotted the blue luggage bag placed against the wall at the far end of the train platform at around 2.25pm. They alerted staff at the station control centre who in turn reported the matter to the operations control centre of the North East Line.
The operations team decided to evacuate the MRT station and close it for security reasons and trains were ordered to bypass the station.
The police were alerted to the incident at 2.45pm. Upon arriving at the station, they cordoned off the area around the luggage and opened the luggage after deeming it safe to do so. They found only household items inside the luggage. The station was later reopened at 4.03pm.
According to the prosecution, represented by Daphne Lim, 36 trains were made to bypass Hougang MRT station, 29 free bus services were deployed and some 663 commuters evacuated from the station. A total of 15 SBS personnel and 71 police officers were deployed to handle the situation.
Wang, who was earlier identified though CCTV footage, was spotted at the train platform of Hougang station at about 4.40pm on the same day and was detained. Upon investigation, Wang said that he had collected the luggage from a friend at Buangkok Crescent earlier that day before going to Chinatown to run some errands.
Before heading to Chinatown station on the North East Line, Wang decided to leave the luggage unattended at Hougang station at 2.10pm. He completed his errands at Chinatown and returned to Hougang station to retrieve the luggage when he was arrested.
Woodleigh MRT station incident was more aggravated: Wang’s lawyer
DPP Lim sought the maximum fine of $1,000, arguing that a large amount of resources had gone into the incident. She added that Wang had been working in Singapore for some time and should have been aware of security precautions.
Given that there were four cases of security scares in MRT stations in the past two months, DPP said that there was a need for general deterrence, especially in today’s heightened security climate. Wang’s lawyer, Ng Shi Yang, argued for a $700 fine, comparing the present case to the scare at Woodleigh MRT station, which he said was more aggravated.
For the Woodleigh station incident, which occurred barely two weeks after the Hougang scare, a running team had left white powder in various spots of the MRT station, triggering a security shutdown for 175 minutes. The powder turned out to be baking flour.
Ng said that the 69-year-old suspect of the Woodleigh case was a Singaporean and should have been even more aware of the security precautions. The lawyer added that more resources were deployed, and the entire incident at Woodleigh MRT spanned more time than the Hougang incident.
“If the Court sentences (Wang) to the maximum sentence, what room does it leave the Court when the Woodleigh suspect is sentenced?” asked Ng.
Investigations are still ongoing for the Woodleigh case. In sentencing Wang, District Judge Kan Shuk Weng agreed with the prosecution that there was a need to deter such offences in the heightened security climate.