Singapore

Netizen jailed 18 months for bomb hoax

A hoax threat to bomb City Hall posted on a social media website early this year triggered 95 per cent of the Public Transport Security Command's manpower to be diverted in response.

The police officers were dispatched to 18 MRT stations along the East-West, North-South and North-East lines. They conducted checks and joint foot patrols to look out for suspicious objects or persons, a judge noted.

District Judge Shawn Ho cited these moves in the Jan 14 incident to underline how fake bomb threats cause "enormous disruption" in sentencing Sze Kai Xuan to 18 months' jail for uploading the fake message on tagged.com.

Sze, 23, a former marketing executive, admitted to posting the message: "Today is the day everyone, cherish it before I bomb City Hall."

Police officers were then put on "heightened alert" given that the Jakarta bombing attacks had occurred at about 11.40am that day. Police received a call about Sze's post at about 12.35pm.

The judge observed that many police officers had to deviate from their original work schedule to respond to the bomb threat, affecting their intended day-to-day patrol shift duties and causing a "severe drain" on police resources.

"When the sentinels' focus was diverted to responding to false threats, valuable attention was removed from guarding against actual threats of terror attacks, thereby endangering all of us."

Sze's lawyer Chia Boon Teck urged the court to consider probation, citing his age, cooperation with the authorities and excellent national service record.

The judge made clear that it was vital to send a clear message to all potential offenders that bomb hoaxes and threats of terror attacks will be punished with "substantial custodial sentences".

Sze is on bail pending an appeal. - THE STRAITS TIMES

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