Man made 2005 NDP bomb hoax due to 'resentment' over previous jail term

Amir Hussain
Senior Reporter
Khor Chye Siew exiting the State Courts on 5 October 2018. PHOTO: Wan Ting Koh/Yahoo News Singapore

Angry and resentful about his time spent behind bars at the now defunct Portsdown Prison, a 30-year-old Malaysian who was repatriated after serving his jail term decided to make the Singapore government “anxious” and “worried”, a district court heard.

Khor Chye Siew cooked up an elaborate hoax about suicide bombers targeting Singapore’s 40th National Day Parade in 2005.

From a cyber cafe in Thailand, under the guise of being “Malik Mahmud”, Khor sent an email warning the authorities of an impending attack – just days before the parade. He thought a bomb threat from “a Muslim” would be more convincing.

On Friday (19 October), Khor, who is now 42 and a British national, was jailed for four months having pleaded guilty to one charge of giving false information to a public servant.

Khor was arrested at Changi Airport on 26 May this year when he flew into Singapore from London.

The court heard that in March 2005, Khor was sentenced to six months’ jail with three strokes of the cane for an immigration offence.

After his release from Portsdown Prison, Khor was repatriated to Malaysia as he was a Malaysian national at the time. He then made his way to Hat Yai in Thailand.

There, he created an email account pretending to be “Malik Mahmud” to conceal his identity and “because he thought that any bomb threat would be more convincing if the email came from a Malay or Muslim”, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Thiagesh Sukumaran.

At a cyber cafe on 24 July 2005, Khor sent an email to a Singapore government feedback account. It read, in full: “To whom it may concern / I’m writing this mail just to inform that something your country’s Intelligent Service has failed to do, which is to track down 100% the terrorist activities in your country. Kindly take this information seriously or else don’t blame me if something horror & ugly happens. / There’s going to be 3 suicide bombings during your country’s 40th National Day Parade, I know who & where these crooks are, you guys still have plenty of times to crackdown this people, I say about two weeks from now. / Reply me asap” (sic).

An officer with the then Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts immediately forwarded the email to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Defence.

The police’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) managed to trace the email to the cyber cafe. The police liaised with the Thai authorities and a CID team flew to Hat Yai to interview Khor.

But Khor kept up his ruse, claiming that he had been housed with two Pakistani inmates named ‘Billal’ and ‘Qadeer’ while in prison, even giving the CID officers fictitious prison inmate numbers.

Khor claimed to have heard the men talk about the suicide attacks in London on 7 July 2005, and saying “the British deserved it”. Khor also said they talked about the National Day Parade.

The CID team traced the inmate numbers that Khor provided to two Singaporeans. But neither man had ever met Khor. The officers only concluded that the threat was a hoax in May 2006.

DPP Thiagesh asked for five to six months’ jail, saying there was “appreciable harm” caused by the hoax. “The falsehood perpetuated by (Khor) led to a large wastage of investigative resources,” he said.

Added the DPP, “This was not a mere act of mischief. (Khor) gave fictitious information about a suicide bombing plot because he was unhappy and resentful about his time spent in prison. He bore a grudge against the authorities and targeted the NDP, in order to exact maximum shock value from his claim.”

In mitigation, Khor told District Judge John Ng, ” Your Honour, I was a hot headed and impulsive person in the past. … Now I have a family and a daughter. … I’ve been wholly remorseful for what I’ve done.” He added, “I was out of my mind to do such a crime.”

Khor said he is divorced from his wife, who lives in Australia with their daughter. He pleaded for a lenient sentence as his 80-year-old mother in Malaysia is dying from a kidney disease, and asked for “a chance to be with her for the last few moments of her life”.

The judge said he believed that Khor is remorseful but also noted the seriousness of the offence. “Much resources have been expanded in investigating this case,” he said.

For his 2005 offence, Khor could have been jailed for up to six months and fined up to $1,000.

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