SINGAPORE — A 20-year-old man was charged in court on Thursday (15 October) for taking drone footage of the Ministry of Defence’s (MINDEF) Gombak Base and Gali Batu Depot.
Russell Wong Shin Pin, a Singaporean, allegedly flew his drone, a DJI Mavic Air Drone, into the airspace above MINDEF’s Gombak Base and Stagmont Camp.
He faces three charges of operating the drone without a Class 2 activity permit for recreational purposes in October last year, three of flying his drone over protected areas, and two of taking photos of protected areas without permission.
On 8 October, Wong allegedly flew his drone from a park beside Cashew Road and Upper Bukit Timah Road over Gombak Base. He then supposedly took a photo of the protected area.
He also allegedly flew the drone from a car park near Stagmont Ring on 9 October evening. He then allegedly flew the drone over Stagmont Camp and Gombak Base – both were protected areas. He also allegedly used his drone to take prohibited photos of Gali Batu Depot, which is a protected place as declared under the Schedule of the Infrastructure Protection (Protected Places) (No. 2) Order 2019.
He is said to have flown the drone along Dairy Farm Lane in the evening of 19 October.
Wong’s case was adjourned for his lawyer to be present at the next hearing to indicate Wong’s position. He will return to court on 29 October.
The Singapore Police Force said that a police report was lodged on 19 October last year regarding the sighting of a drone along Dairy Farm Lane.
Police established Wong’s identity and he was investigated for two earlier incidents of operating his drone on 8 October 2019 from Cashew Road, and 9 October 2019 from Stagmont Ring, without a permit.
Users of unmanned aerial vehicles (UA) should refer to the OneMap.sg website, or use the OneMap app, to check the areas where the flying of a UA is not allowed unless a permit has been obtained, said the police.
“Any UA with a total weight of above 250g must be registered before it can be operated in Singapore. From 1 February 2021 onwards, certain UA users will also need to obtain an unmanned aircraft basic training certificate (UABTC) or unmanned aircraft pilot licence (UAPL) before they operate their UA in Singapore.”
If convicted of the offence of prohibited photography over protected areas using a UA punishable under Section 7(2A)(a) of the Air Navigation Act, or operating a UA over a protected area punishable under Section 7A(2A) of the Air Navigation Act, Wong faces a jail term of up to two years or a fine of up to $50,000.
If convicted of operating a drone without permit under Section 80(5) read with the Thirteenth Schedule to the Air Navigation Order, Wong could be fined up to $20,000 on a first conviction.
If convicted of taking prohibited photos of a protected area using a drone under Section 30(4) of the Infrastructure Protection Act, Wong may be jailed up to two years and/or fined up to $20,000.
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