SINGAPORE: It is normal practice for Singapore’s Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) to give expedited clearance to ministers, ICA said on in response to media queries.
ICA also confirmed that Family and Social Development Minister Tan Chuan-Jin was travelling with 20 bus loads of people, who were his residents and grassroots leaders, on Sunday when he, his security officers and the other passengers in his bus were given clearance, without having to queue, at the Tuas Checkpoint at around 9.20pm.
The passengers in the other 19 buses were cleared through the normal channels, ICA added.
“It is normal practice for ICA to give expedited clearance to Ministers, on both sides of the Causeway as well as members of the Malaysian royalty,” ICA said.
“Where they travel with others in a group, ICA officers will use their judgment on the clearance process,” it added.
ICA’s response came a day after Workers’ Party MP Png Eng Huat commented on his Facebook that he was “dismayed” to see a lane for immigration clearance specially opened for Tan and his residents. Tan is MP for Marine Parade GRC.
Png said in a post on Monday afternoon that the Singapore customs was “overwhelmed” when he and some residents were returning from a one-day trip to Desaru on Sunday. Png is MP for Hougang SMC.
“Many tired travellers were relieved to see another counter opened but to their dismay, it was only to allow Minister Tan Chuan-Jin to clear as he had joined his residents for a day of outing and fun too,” he said.
He said that most people probably did not mind this, as “being a minister does come with privileges”, but he noted that some others in the group with Tan also did not have to queue.
“An entourage of grassroots leaders and members with shopping bags in tow also enjoyed the privilege of fast clearance… No one else could use that counter,” he said.
Png added that an 89-year-old resident in his group, and one who was injured during the tour had to wait in line.
“The chaos, anger and confusion at the Tuas Immigration check point certainly made us forget how bad the durians were yesterday, and how bad the system needs to change,” he concluded.
Another Workers’ Party politician, Kenneth Foo, also wrote about the incident on his Facebook page.
Png’s post had been shared more than 600 times by Tuesday morning.
Netizens debated the incident in the comments under the post, with some defending Tan and others saying that grassroots leaders should not be given special treatment.
Meanwhile, Facebook group Fabrications About The PAP gave an explanation for the incident.
It explained in a Facebook post on Monday night that Tan was on a semi-official trip. He then chose to join his residents for a Johor Baru tour and take the bus with them instead of driving in.
“It was a semi-official visit and his security officers carried firearms. Thus, his whole bus of residents was cleared at the same time,” said the post.
According to ICA, records show that Png was at the checkpoint for about 30 minutes, and was cleared through immigration. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network