Drone user arrested at Marina Barrage amid tighter security

Drone user arrested at Marina Barrage amid tighter security
A sign warning against flying of drones near the parade venue during the National Day Parade on August 9, 2017. Photo: Esther Leong/TODAY
Published: 9:51 PM, August 9, 2017
Updated: 10:24 AM, August 10, 2017

SINGAPORE — A 53-year-old man was arrested on Wednesday (Aug 9) after he was spotted flying a drone at Marina Barrage amid tighter security for this year’s National Day Parade (NDP).

A police spokesperson told TODAY that the man was seen flying his drone around 3pm at the Marina Barrage, which was within the special event area. 

He was arrested and had his drone seized. Investigations are in progress, the spokesperson added. 

The floating platform where the NDP was held had been designated a special event area, and no one was allowed to carry or fly unmanned aerial vehicles, including drones, within the area without a valid permit.

To enforce the ban, the police and the Singapore Armed Forces deployed more personnel to patrol the area around the parade venue to look out for drone operators. 

A drone radar system was also deployed to help to detect and track unauthorised drones flying in the parade area. Overall security measures were also increased. More than 5,000 personnel were involved in security and safety efforts at the parade, similar to previous parades.  But in light of recent terrorist attacks elsewhere, including incidents where vehicles rammed into pedestrians, concrete blocks were placed in more locations, especially where crowds gathered to watch the fireworks.

There was heavy police and military presence at the nearby Marina Bay Sands when TODAY was there at about 4.20pm, with multiple stations for bag checks leading into the areas that look out onto the bay. 

At about 4.30pm, there were long queues for the security checks at the entrance to the parade venue near the Esplanade MRT Station, but these cleared quickly. 

There were at least 10 bag check stations and metal detectors. 

Despite the tighter security measures, spectators said they were not inconvenienced and felt the checks were necessary.

Accounts executive Jenny Poh, 23, entered the venue from the entrance near Marina Square and said the process was smooth. Noting that the checks were strict, she said she was asked to take a sip from her water bottle to ascertain that “it was drinkable”.

Ms Vicky Ng, 26, said she was made to discard a perfume spray bottle. “When it comes to water content, they were quite strict,” said the Zumba instructor. 

Parade-goers said the whole process of security checks took between 15 minutes and an hour, but they felt safer as a result of the tighter measures. Military regular Seah Koon Meng, 41, who attended the parade with his daughters aged nine and 10, said: “At least we know that nothing illegal (would be brought in) for the safety of everybody.”

Madam Jennie Yap, 54, said the process took about an hour. Nevertheless, the senior sales executive added: “We felt safe to enjoy the show”.

Belinda Poh, 24, who is currently unemployed, noted that the checks were more stringent than at previous parades. She said: “It gives people peace of mind with the thorough checks.” ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY LOUISA TANG