Ex-security guard fined for collision in Istana that injured MFA permanent secretary

SINGAPORE: A former auxiliary police officer was fined S$2,500 on Wednesday August 31 after causing a collision with a vehicle at Istana last year.

Tan Chee Kiat, 30, pleaded guilty to a single charge of negligently causing grievous bodily harm. He was a Certis CISCO officer at the time of the incident.

The then Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Chee Wee Kiong, and his driver, Mr. Abdul Latif Karim, suffered broken bones in the collision on August 23, 2021.

The court heard that the accident happened on Edinburgh Road, located within the grounds of the Istana. Tan was deployed to a security post along Edinburgh Road on the morning of the incident.

His job was to operate the control panel of ground bollards, which are barriers used to block access to roads. When activated, they rise from the ground.

Mr Chee was the only passenger in the car driven by Mr Abdul Latif and their vehicle had passed through security and was traveling along Edinburgh Road. At 9:15 a.m., Tan raised the bollards without verifying that the car had passed them.

The car was traveling 6 mph at the time, according to court documents. Mr. Abdul Latif noticed that the bollards were up, but he was unable to stop the car in time and hit the bollards.

Both men were taken to hospital for treatment.

Mr. Chee suffered multiple fractures, a broken sternum and a broken tooth. He was admitted the same day and discharged two days later.

Mr. Abdul Latif suffered a broken sternum and bruised left knee. He was released a day after the incident.

Investigations showed that standard security procedures required the person operating the kiosks to perform a visual inspection of the kiosks upon activation.

“When he activated the bollards, (Tan) made no such visual inspection and assumed that the car had overshot the bollards, thus causing the collision,” Deputy Prosecutor Pang Jaime said.

OFFICER DISMISSED FOR INCIDENT

Mr Pang demanded a fine of S$2,500, citing the victims’ serious injuries and Tan’s failure to properly discharge his responsibility.

Defense attorney Wee Qianliang informed the court that his client was fired following the incident and is currently unemployed. He asked for a reduced fine of S$2,000.

He said the position of the control panel was such that Tan’s back would face the road where the cars were driving, 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 US Vice President Kamala Harris’ official visit to Singapore. Ms Harris was hosted by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and had meetings at the Istana that day, according to a Foreign Office press release on her visit.

Mr. Chee retired in April, after serving 40 years in the civil service and the Singapore Armed Forces.

The penalty for causing serious injury by a negligent act that endangers human life or personal safety is up to two years in prison, a fine of up to S$5,000 or both.