Former security officer fined over collision at Istana that injured MFA permanent secretary
SINGAPORE: A former auxiliary police officer was fined S$2,500 on Wednesday (Aug 31) after causing a vehicle collision at the Istana last year.
Tan Chee Kiat, 30, pleaded guilty to a single charge of causing grievous hurt through a negligent act. He was a Certis CISCO officer at the time of the incident.
The Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs at the time, Mr Chee Wee Kiong, and his driver Mr Abdul Latif Karim suffered fractures in the collision on Aug 23, 2021.
The court heard that the crash took place on Edinburgh Road, which is located within the grounds of the Istana. Tan was deployed at a security post along Edinburgh Road on the morning of the incident.
His job was to operate the control panel for the ground bollards, which are barriers used to block access to roads. When activated, they rise from the ground.
Mr Chee was the sole passenger in the car driven by Mr Abdul Latif and their vehicle had cleared security and was travelling along Edinburgh Road. At 9.15am, Tan raised the bollards without checking that the car had passed them.
The car was driving at 10 kmh at the time, according to court documents. Mr Abdul Latif noticed that the bollards were being raised but he was unable to stop the car in time and hit the bollards.
Both men were taken to the hospital for treatment.
Mr Chee suffered multiple fractures, a sternum fracture and a tooth fracture. He was admitted the same day and discharged two days later.
Mr Abdul Latif sustained a sternum fracture and left knee contusion. He was discharged a day after the incident.
Investigations showed that standard safety procedures required the person operating the bollards to conduct a visual inspection of the bollards when activating them.
"When he activated the bollards, (Tan) had failed to conduct such a visual inspection and assumed that the car had passed the bollards, thus resulting in the collision," said Deputy Public Prosecutor Pang Jaime.
OFFICER FIRED OVER INCIDENT
Mr Pang sought a fine of S$2,500, citing the victims' severe injuries and Tan's failure to discharge his responsibility properly.
Defence counsel Wee Qianliang informed the court that his client was fired as a result of the incident, and was currently unemployed. He asked for a lower fine of S$2,000.
He said that the position of the control panel was such that Tan's back would be facing the road where the cars travelled, and that Tan did not notice any cars when he activated the bollards.
Mr Wee added that Tan immediately offered help to the victims after the collision. He said Tan was remorseful for his actions and had written personal apology letters.
The collision happened during the official visit of United States Vice President Kamala Harris to Singapore. Ms Harris was hosted by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and had meetings at the Istana that day, according to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs press statement on her visit.
Mr Chee retired in April, after serving 40 years in the public service and Singapore Armed Forces.
The penalty for causing grievous hurt through a negligent act that endangers human life or personal safety is up to two years' jail, a fine of up to S$5,000 or both.