Singapore

Man fined for leaving luggage at Hougang MRT station

He left a piece of blue luggage unattended at Hougang MRT station on April 2, sparking a security alert and the station's subsequent closure for close to 90 minutes.

More than 3,500 commuters were affected and nearly 700 had to be evacuated.

For causing annoyance to the public, Chinese national Wang Jianpo, 39, was fined the maximum $1,000 yesterday after pleading guilty.

On the afternoon of April 2, Wang collected the luggage from a friend just before going to Hougang MRT station.

He planned to go to Chinatown to run some errands but decided, for convenience, to leave the bag at the station.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Daphne Lim said a couple spotted the luggage at around 2.25pm and alerted the staff.

A decision was made by the operations control centre of the North-East Line to evacuate Hougang MRT station and close it for security reasons.

All trains were ordered to bypass it and the police were notified. Officers on the scene opened the luggage and found household items.

The station was reopened at around 4pm. A total of 36 trains bypassed Hougang station as a result, while 29 buses, 15 SBS personnel and 71 police officers were deployed.

After completing his errands, Mr Wang took a train back to Hougang MRT station and was arrested.

Urging the court to give him the maximum fine, DPP Lim said: "In this current heightened security climate, there is a need for this court to send a message that such acts involving the intentional leaving of one's personal items unattended at public places would be visited with appropriately severe sanctions."

Mr Wang's lawyer Ng Shi Yang asked District Judge Kan Shuk Weng to fine his client $700, saying he was not a troublemaker but an "ignorant fool".

He said: "He had a simplistic approach to getting around his personal inconvenience, and a general ignorance of current affairs made him unaware of the recently heightened security climate in Singapore."

Wang's case is the first of four similar instances of people being arrested in recent months for leaving items at MRT stations to appear before the court.

mrthougangcourt