Foreign national Mick Davies had entered Singapore illegally and was subsequently found out and deported.
Mr Davies whose original name is Lan Shili and a PRC national had applied and received his Singapore citizen in 2002. He had forged his documents when he made the application for citizenship.
More recently, Mr Davies, 58, returned to China for business but was arrested on charges of fraud and had his passport impounded. But the businessman, once named as one of the richest tycoons in China, managed to escape to Vietnam where he obtained a fake Hong Kong passport and returned to Singapore.
He was found out and arrested only after two weeks when he visited the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority building. It was during the investigation that the authorities discovered that his documents in his citizen application were also forged.
The incident raises grave questions. One, how did the Home Affairs Ministry not discover that his application for Singapore citizenship was not in order for 16 years? Two, and more importantly, how did he enter and remain in Singapore for two weeks using a fake passport? How many more such people have slipped through our customs and entered Singapore illegally?
The fact that Mr Davies was freely moving within Singapore for two whole weeks is astounding. If he had been a terrorist out to cause mayhem, he could have done much damage.
This is not the first time that our border security has been breached. In 2008, a retiree managed to leave Singapore even though he had mistakenly presented his son’s passport. He managed to board his flight to Vietnam despite the computerised system signaling the problem.
In 2009, a 73-year old Singaporean woman went missing in Genting Highlands, apparently, in a state of fugue where she couldn’t recall how she spent her days in Malaysia. But she was found back in Singapore a week later – without her passport.
In 2014, a Malaysian woman drove through the Causeway checkpoint unchecked and drove around in Singapore for three days undetected before she was stopped.
Had these lapses happened with individuals with violent intent, Singapore would be faced with a disastrous outcome.
The government had arrested 8 Bangladeshi workers in April 2016 for suspected terrorist activities. The announcement was made only in May 2016 during the Bukit Batok by-election.
The media had asked Dr Chee Soon Juan, the SDP candidate there, about the arrests and the Internal Security Act. Dr Chee replied that the government needed to tighten its overly lax immigration policy.
Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam responded saying that Dr Chee “shows a lack of understanding of the nature of the problem”.
The SDP understands perfectly the nature of the problem. In this day and age when there is the threat of terrorism, we should adopt a more judicious immigration policy than the one we currently have and a strong security screening system, one that doesn’t allow people like Mick Davies to wander our streets for years.
These events show that before the Minister for Home Affairs accuses the opposition of not understanding the immigration problem, he needs to put in more effort to secure our borders.
His ministry needs to be more vigilant and prevent the illegal entry of criminal elements into Singapore once and for all before the problem manifests itself in an even more dangerous manner.