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Security scare at Woodleigh MRT Station: Runner fined S$1,000

SINGAPORE — It was nine mounds of white flour that was meant to mark out a running route inside Woodleigh MRT Station, but that led to a security scare and the deployment of more than 130 security personnel to the scene.

Commuters at Woodleigh MRT station. TODAY file photo

Commuters at Woodleigh MRT station. TODAY file photo

SINGAPORE — It was nine mounds of white flour that was meant to mark out a running route inside Woodleigh MRT Station, but that led to a security scare and the deployment of more than 130 security personnel to the scene.

The station along the North-East Line also had to be shut for more than three hours, affecting more than 1,200 commuters, and some 40 trains had to be diverted from the station.

The man who placed the flour mounds, 69-year-old Tay Yong Kwang, was fined the maximum penalty of S$1,000 on Wednesday (Nov 29), after he admitted to one count of causing public nuisance.

The court heard that Tay was a member of the Seletar Hash House Harriers, a running group of about 30 people who would gather every Tuesday for the activity. The route would be decided by an appointed “hare” or runner every week, who would mark it out with materials such as flour, chalk and paper.

On April 18 this year, Tay was appointed the “hare” and he planned to mark the route from Aljunied Road to Serangoon Gardens.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tang Shangjun, who pressed the court to impose the maximum punishment, said: “Woodleigh MRT was a landmark along the planned route as the runners were supposed to use the underpass leading through the station, so as to avoid having to run along the main road.”

From 12.15pm that day, Tay spent about 10 minutes placing nine mounds of flour in and around the station.

At around 12.30pm, station master Chan Pui Hoe discovered one of the mounds at the concourse level, and notified police officers from the Public Transport Security Command.

Hazardous Materials (HazMat) officers from the Singapore Civil Defence Force were alerted and arrived at the station as well.

Mr Chan checked images from the closed-circuit TV and it showed Tay placing the flour mounds around the premises.

The station was shut at around 1.20pm and reopened slightly more than three hours later, after HazMat officers determined that the white powdery substance was not a biohazard.

Tay was nabbed by the police later that day.

About two weeks before Tay caused the security scare, there was a similar incident on April 2 at Hougang MRT Station, also on the North-East Line. The station was closed for more than an hour after a suitcase was left unattended there.

The culprit, Wang Jianpo, was also fined the maximum S$1,000 for what he did, which affected more than 4,000 commuters, including 663 who were evacuated from the station. He had left the suitcase at the station platform while he went to run some errands.

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