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Singapore

2 people get jail for leaking deployment plan to help PMD riders avoid enforcement

2 people get jail for leaking deployment plan to help PMD riders avoid enforcement

A man riding an e-scooter in Singapore.

SINGAPORE: A woman and man have been sentenced to one week's jail for leaking the deployment plan of active mobility enforcement officers in order to help other personal mobility device (PMD) riders avoid tickets and summonses.

Syarifah Nur Nabilah Syed Omar, 24, was a former Certis CISCO auxiliary police officer at the time of the offences. She sent the deployment plan to Afendi Mohamed Rashid, 36, who then sent it to a WhatsApp group with about 211 members.

On Thursday (Jun 30), each pleaded guilty to one charge of communicating information obtained in contravention of the Official Secrets Act.

During her time with Certis CISCO, Syarifah served as a Land Transport Authority (LTA) active mobility enforcement officer. These officers patrol pedestrian walkways to detect errant PMD riders who use modified devices, speeding and compromising road safety.

LTA staff would plan the areas for each team's daily patrol, and team leaders would come up with a daily deployment plan containing details such as the specific officers to be deployed to specific streets and park connectors, and patrolling times. These details changed from day to day and were not known in advance by the public. 

Syarifah resigned on May 20, 2021, but remained in a WhatsApp chat group where her team leader would disseminate the daily deployment plans to the team. She continued to receive the deployment plans through the group from May 21 to Jun 1, 2021, the day of the offence.

On the morning of Jun 1, 2021, Syarifah took a screenshot of the deployment plan sent to the group, and forwarded it to Afendi. She did this despite knowing she was not allowed to receive the information nor circulate it to other unauthorised people.

Syarifah and Afendi met while doing food deliveries, and Afendi knew that she was a former active mobility enforcement officer. The court heard that they would pass each other information about such enforcement efforts so that they would know where to avoid the officers. Syarifah therefore wanted to warn him.

After receiving the screenshot, Afendi forwarded it to a WhatsApp chat group along with a statement to the effect of: "Don't I say I never protect ah. Today GM deployment." Active mobility enforcement officers are colloquially known as "GM" or "green men" because of the vests they wear.

There were around 211 people in this public chat group. The screenshot was subsequently forwarded by other people to at least three other WhatsApp chat groups for PMD riders.

Later that same day, Syarifah's former team leader made a police report that one of his officers had come across the daily deployment plan leaked on an e-scooter WhatsApp chat group.

Syarifah later deleted the screenshot and her message to Afendi as she was afraid the police would find them. Around the same time, Afendi deleted the screenshot and his chatlogs with Syarifah as well as the WhatsApp chat group.

An investigating officer called Afendi on Jun 2, 2021 but he refused to go to the police station for an interview, and blocked the officer's phone number. He also hung up when another officer called him to come for an interview. Afendi was eventually arrested in December 2021.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Seah Ee Wei asked for one to two week's jail for each offender. She argued that their culpability was similar, as both ultimately intended to help others avoid law enforcement.

She argued that both offenders had aggravating factors. Syarifah was a former enforcement officer and had obtained the leaked information, while Afendi sent it on to 211 people. Both also tried to avoid detection.

Syarifah's defence counsel Azri Imran Tan argued that his client's culpability was lower than that of Afendi as she had only sent the screenshot to one person, Afendi, and this was "merely to help him".

Afendi was not represented. He asked the judge for leniency, saying he was the sole breadwinner of his family and needed to be with his wife, who suffers from anxiety.

Deputy Principal District Judge Luke Tan said he saw no indication that Syarifah took steps to limit the spread of the screenshot to only one person, and noted that she was a former enforcement officer herself, which "makes this worse".

He said that he would not make a distinction in sentence as Syarifah and Afendi each had their own sets of aggravating factors.

They could have been jailed for up to two years and fined up to S$2,000.

Source: CNA/dv

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