Coast Guard intercepts unauthorised boat in seconds; illegal immigrant and Malaysian boatman nabbed
About 35 seconds was all it took for the Police Coast Guard (PCG) to intercept an unauthorised boat that had, just seconds earlier, dropped an illegal immigrant off in Singapore waters.
The high-speed chase off Punggol Barat took place on Monday, at about 7.40pm.
Two men - the illegal immigrant, a 20-year-old Bangladeshi man, and the 46-year-old Malaysian boatman - were arrested. Also seized were RM3,734 (S$1,240) in cash and the fibreglass boat.
Preliminary investigations revealed that the Malaysian boatman had picked up the Bangladeshi man from the shoreline of Johor Baru.
Near Punggol Barat, a person was seen jumping off the unauthorised fibreglass boat and swimming towards the shore. The motorised boat then proceeded to leave the location.
Despite repeated verbal and visual warnings through firing of flares by the PCG, the boatman refused to stop his boat. It was then intercepted.
The PCG, which had worked with the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority to detect the vessel, estimated that the operation took about a minute - from the moment the unnumbered boat from Malaysia entered Singapore waters off Punggol Barat to the moment it was intercepted and the boatman was caught.
While the Special Task Squadron was chasing the boatman in the waters in their high-speed interceptor, their colleagues on land were keeping a close watch on the illegal immigrant attempting to enter Singapore in the darkness.
Officers from the Coastal Hardening Strike Force (CHSF) were on-site in off-road vehicles, ready to apprehend the illegal immigrant after he swam to shore.
Deputy Superintendent Desmond Ong, commanding officer of the Special Task Squadron, who coordinated the operation, said that such operations were high risk.
He said: "(Here), the distance between Malaysia and Singapore is narrow, leaving us a short span of time... It is important to coordinate our forces in the sea and on land in order to apprehend both men.
"And this is a high-speed operation, there are inherent risks to our operators... facing off in a high-risk situation."
Staff Sergeant Norisham Abu Samah, in-charge of CHSF, said his officers had to keep calm and be ready.
"You can never know what to expect, it could be one man, or many - they might even be armed. My priority is always to ensure the safety of my men and myself and also that of the person we are arresting."
The two men are expected to be charged in court today.
Anyone guilty of illegal entry is liable to up to six months imprisonment and at least three strokes of the cane.
Anyone found guilty of engaging in the business or trade of conveying illegal immigrants to Singapore is liable to two to five years imprisonment and at least three strokes of the cane.