On Assignment
Coastal Enforcers: Swift Response by Sea and Land
One suspect tried to enter Singapore illegally. His boatman tried to escape. The Police Coast Guard detected and intercepted the boat very quickly, and both suspects were arrested for unlawful entry.

It’s around 7:40pm on Monday, 25 March, just moments before a high-speed chase in the quiet waters off Punggol Barat, an island north of Singapore. 

On heat-sensing infrared cameras, the Police Coast Guard (PCG) detect an unnumbered motorised fiberglass boat making an illegal entry into Singapore waters. There are two men on the boat – an illegal immigrant from Bangladesh and his Malaysian boatman.

PCG officers are deployed, and the operation to apprehend the unsuspecting men goes into full swing. 

The motorised boat makes a beeline for Punggol Barat. Just before it hits the shore, it swerves – the Bangladeshi man jumps off the boat, plunges into the water and swims to shore. The boatman makes a hasty U-turn to leave.

man jumping off
Footage of the Bangladeshi man jumping off the boat. VIDEO: SPF

This is when the drama begins.

With a high-speed interceptor, the PCG’s elite Special Task Squadron (STS) comes out at full force to tail the motorised boat. Verbal warnings are given. Multiple flares are fired. But there’s no reaction – the boatman ignores the warnings and continues towards Malaysian waters.

flare fired
A warning flare is fired towards the motorised boat. VIDEO: SPF 

However, after successful manoeuvres by the STS, the motorised boat is capsized – and all it took was 35 seconds. The boatman is taken out of the water and brought to task.

As for the man heading towards Singapore, his swim in the salty waters of Punggol Barat is short-lived. Physical barriers erected by the PCG prevent him from proceeding beyond the coastline, resulting in an immediate arrest by the Singapore Police Force's Coastal Hardening Strike Force (CHSF).

physical barrier
Erected along the shoreline of Punggol Barat is a physical barrier that deters would-be trespassers. PHOTO: SPF

A Swift and Coordinated Response
For the CHSF team, operating in the dark and on uneven terrain posed challenges to the operation. 

home team news pcg spf punggol barat incident-2
SSGT Norisham from the CHSF inspecting the captured boat with his colleague. PHOTO: Muhamad Khair

“The first thing on my mind was safety, for myself and for my partner. Once we’d apprehended the suspect, our next step was to consider his safety and make sure that he wasn’t injured,” recalled Staff Sergeant (SSGT) Norisham Abu Samah, one of the CHSF officers deployed that night. “We had to expect the unexpected. He could have been armed, and we had to be on guard.”

According to Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Desmond Ong, Commanding Officer of the STS, such operations are inherently challenging and require swift coordination to be effective. The Johor Straits are narrow, which gives authorities very little time to thwart suspects.

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DSP Ong coordinated the successful operation, managing the SPF teams on land and at sea. PHOTO: Muhamad Khair

“This was a high-speed operation and there are inherent risks to our operators who are facing off in such situations,” said DSP Ong. “It’s never easy to operate in these waters, so every success for the Squadron is a major achievement. There’s always a sense of satisfaction when we complete our mission without collateral costs.”

home team news pcg spf punggol barat incident
The motorised fibreglass boat used by the suspects. PHOTO: Muhamad Khair

The motorised fibreglass boat and cash amounting to about S$1,250 were also seized. The suspects, a 20-year-old Bangladeshi man and a 46-year-old Malaysian man, were arrested for unlawful entry into Singapore. If found guilty, anyone charged with illegal entry into Singapore could be jailed for up to six months and receive at least three strokes of the cane.

Additionally, the boatman is also being investigated for engaging in the business or trade of conveying an illegal immigrant into Singapore. For that, he could face two to five years’ imprisonment and at least three strokes of the cane.

Well done to our coastal Guardians!



Securing Our Maritime Borders 
Want to learn more about our PCG officers? Check out:
Herstory: Policing Our Coasts with Pride
Constant Vigilance Along Our Coasts
© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.


  1. by Muhamad Khair
  2. 29 March 2019
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