Man who threatened to cause explosion at Tan Tock Seng Hospital jailed

Amir Hussain
Senior Reporter
Judge’s gavel. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

A man who drunkenly threatened to cause an explosion at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) was jailed three years and two months on Monday (15 October) after admitting to the act along with two other offences.

Unhappy over being told there was no rice for him to eat, 52-year-old Abdul Nasir Abdul Rahim had placed his lighter below an oxygen pot and told a nurse, “If I don’t see rice in front of my eyes in five minutes, I will burn the hospital.”

Nasir had pleaded guilty to criminal intimidation, carrying a weapon in public and using criminal force against a public servant. The three offences took place on separate occasions.

Verbally abused hospital staff

The court heard that ambulance staff had brought Nasir into TTSH’s accident and emergency department on 24 January 2017.

“He was intoxicated and was belligerent towards the staff attending to him. He verbally abused the staff and swung his arms around,” Deputy Public Prosecutor Joshua Jeyaraj told the court.

At about 8.30pm, Nasir was placed in an emergency ward. He asked for rice to eat but was told there was none. About 40 minutes later, he threatened to burn down the hospital by taking his flameless electrical lighter and placing it below the oxygen pot.

Fearful that a chain reaction could cause an explosion, the nurse pushed Nasir’s hand away from the oxygen pot. After trying to negotiate with him for at least five minutes, the nurse said he would get rice for Nasir but instead went to alert security about the situation.

Police later arrested Nasir.

Measures in place to prevent explosions

DPP Jeyaraj said there are measures in place at TTSH to prevent an explosion.

The hospital’s oxygen supply is linked through a pipe system, but the system on each floor of the hospital is separated through a safety feature. This system is also highly pressurised and made of non-combustible material, preventing it from exploding if the oxygen pot caught fire.

However, a fire could still have spread within the wards, notwithstanding the measures in place to prevent this from happening – such as the use of fire retardant paint on walls.

Brought samurai sword to coffee shop

Separately, at about 2.40pm on 11 June last year, Nasir was seen with a samurai sword at a coffee shop on Yishun Street 31. He had been drinking rice wine from about 9am that day.

Nasir held a walking stick in his right hand and the sheathed samurai sword in his left hand. He first went to an economy rice stall and swayed momentarily in front of it, DPP Jeyaraj told the court.

He then went to the drinks stall and waved his walking stick at a staff member, before leaving the coffee shop. Nasir had also been seen with a samurai sword at the same location on 30 September 2016.

Policemen later arrested Nasir at his home. He said he had been drunk at the time and claimed that he did not recall bringing the sword to the coffee shop.

Spat on policeman’s face

On 15 September 2017, Nasir also spat on a policeman’s face. Earlier that day, he had called the police and said, “Can you send Bedok Police to pick me up to (sic) Bedok Sheng Siong taxi stand? I know somebody going to put a bomb at some railing so better take me to the station.”

Three policemen found Nasir sitting drunk on a stone bench outside a Sheng Siong supermarket outlet in Bedok.

He insisted that he had seen a suspicious Chinese man walking around Bedok MRT station and the police officers conducted a sweep of the area. They found nothing amiss and arrested Nasir for making a false bomb threat.

Inside the police car, Nasir swore at the officers and spat at one of the officer’s face. He also tried to bite the policeman, urged the police officers to hit him and spat at the roof of the police car.

The prosecution asked for a total jail term of three years and two months to be imposed on Nasir, who has previous convictions, including for rape and criminal intimidation.

The punishment for criminal intimidation, by threatening to cause destruction of property by fire, is up to 10 years jail, a fine or both. The penalty for possession of a weapon is up to five years’ jail with at least six strokes of the cane, for a first conviction.

The punishment for using criminal force on a public servant is up to four years’ jail, a fine or both.

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