Man charged with illegally flying drone to take pictures of MINDEF's Gombak Base, Gali Batu Depot

Man charged with illegally flying drone to take pictures of MINDEF's Gombak Base, Gali Batu Depot

Drone 02 CAAS fly unmanned aircraft - file photo
File photo of a man operating a remote controlled drone (Photo: Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: Over three days in October last year, a man allegedly flew a drone over protected areas and took illegal photos of the Ministry of Defence's Gombak Base and the Gali Batu Depot.

Russell Wong Shin Pin, 20, was given eight charges in court on Thursday (Oct 15) under the Air Navigation Act and Infrastructure Protection Act.

He is accused of flying the drone without a relevant permit at a park beside Cashew Road and Upper Bukit Timah Road on Oct 8 last year.

On the same day, he allegedly flew the drone up to 225m over Gombak Base, which is a protected area, and took a photo of the base with the drone.

Charge sheets state that Wong went to a car park near Stagmont Ring the next day and flew the drone up to 543m above mean sea level and within 5km of Tengah Airbase aerodrome. He did not have a permit at the time, said court documents.

That day, he allegedly flew the drone over Gombak Base and used the drone to take a photo of Gali Batu Depot, which is also a protected place.

Wong is accused of similar acts on a third occasion on Oct 19, 2019, when he went to Dairy Farm Lane and flew a drone up to 574m above mean sea level and within 5km of Tengah Airbase aerodrome. He did not have the relevant permit at the time, said charge sheets.

Wong will return to court on Oct 29. 

Under the Air Navigation Act, anyone convicted of operating a drone over any part of a protected area can be jailed for up to a year, fined up to S$20,000 or both. If convicted under the same Act of taking a photo of a protected area using a drone, he could be jailed for up to a year, fined up to S$20,000 or both.

For operating a drone without a permit, he could be fined up to S$20,000 if it is his first such conviction.

He could be jailed for up to two years, fined up to S$20,000 or both if convicted of taking prohibited photos of a protected area using a drone under the Infrastructure Protection Act.

The police said in a news release that they do not condone the flying of drones in an "unsafe and irresponsible" manner, as this poses risks to aviation and public safety and security.

They advised drone users to refer to the OneMap.sg website or mobile application to check for areas where flying of drones is not allowed without a permit. 

Any drone weighing more than 250g must be registered before it can be used in Singapore.

From Feb 1 next year, some drone users must obtain a certificate or licence before operating their drones in Singapore.

Source: CNA/ll

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