Daniel Lee Yong Boon is a sportsman, NUS administrator and caring counselor. Recently, while returning to Singapore from Malaysia, he was unfairly suspected of using illegal substances at the Woodlands checkpoint.
After reading his online letter to Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) and Immigrations & Checkpoints Authority (ICA), I could only imagine his confusion as he was subjected to a sequence of treatments that is all the more bewildering and unfair considering that he is innocent.
I’ve approached Daniel to request his permission to repost his letter on KRC so that the relevant authorities could be more persuaded to study how the system could be improved. Daniel granted his permission. His email to CNB and ICA on 29th October is reposted below:
To the relevant officers in CNB and ICA,
I returned from a trip to Malaysia on 27 Oct at around 5pm via the Woodlands checkpoint and encountered a very traumatizing experience at the Woodlands Immigration, which led to me, an innocent Singaporean and law-abiding citizen, being treated as a drug addict. I believe there is a procedural flaw somewhere that puts me in this predicament and that prompted me to write you this message.
That evening, after clearing immigration, I was picked out by an ICA officer, Staff Sgt Muhd Khalik (name provided to me by CNB officers at my request) to step aside.
I was carrying my bag, a plastic bag of food and my slingbag.
I was told to step into the Ionscan machine, which blasted air at me from all angles. The Officer told me to step out and go in again, this time without my bags.
I was then told to go into an office next to the machine. There were 2 other officers there. My bags were searched and the officer didn’t tell me what the procedure was for, despite me asking. I thought it was a random trial to test the machine. I asked if it was for drugs, though I didn’t get a confirmation.
I was told that I had to miss my bus transport back to Beach Road.
I was informed I had registered “positive” twice and I was taken by Stf Sgt Khalik to a CNB lab for urine test. There was no other information offered to me.
I was subjected to CNB protocol from then onwards.
• Escorted to CNB office on a higher level
• Strip search
• Urine test
• Taking a statement
The urine test results turned out negative (I was told it was to test for Phencyclidine –PCP). There was also another Malaysian male who tested negative despite the machine indicating otherwise.
At the end of it all, I had to go Jurong Police Station to post bail (which the 3 CNB officers fetched me there eventually, under handcuff). I had protested earlier that I had no one to post bail for me and they changed it to self bail (I forgot the proper term used).
I knew all along that I am “clean” – I am NO drug abuser, I am NOT a criminal.
As a proud Singaporean, this incident has made me skeptical of the ICA and CNB procedures. As a law abiding and innocent citizen, it was highly stressful and traumatizing to have gone through all these, simply because I was picked out by ICA and a machine indicated I am positive for drugs. There is a serious flaw in the screening process that turned me from a happy returning holiday maker into a suspected drug abuser.
The procedures are very unfair and questionable (to me as an innocent citizen passing through Immigration).
I have the following questions :
If a “double positive “ is required for me to be subject to CNB protocol, why was I not asked to try another time at the machine (without the food items).
When the urine test showed negative, why was I not released there and then, and still had to be subject to CNB protocol?
Why was I treated as a drug abuser and subjected to all the indignities?
Why am I assumed guilty until proven innocent?
Does the fact that there’re 2 instances of false positives (the Malaysian and I) point to a fault with the machine?
In fact, it has not ended for me. In 2 weeks’ time, I have to report to Woodland Checkpoint again to get the results. If the results are not out by then, then I have to go to Jurong Police to extend bail. And I was told I have to be handcuffed when this happens again. Where is the justice that Singapore is so proud of?
I can understand the importance of law and drug enforcement at the border. But there is a procedural flaw where I, an innocent citizen, was subjected to the processes intended for a drug abuser. I also assume if that can happen to me, it can be repeated again to another innocent citizen. That should not have happened and I demand a proper explanation and apology for the ordeal I have gone through.
Your early response to this will be much appreciated.
Lee Yong Boon Daniel