Getting frisked at an MRT station or bus interchange? Well, at least the MRT staff has very kindly decided to stimulate the airport experience for commuters.
Except instead of travelling to a foreign country, we’ll be dragging our feet to the office or school.
Sigh. I simply do not dream of labour.
Commuters on Buses & Trains May Have to Undergo “Frisk Checks” Under Proposed Laws
The new proposed law that was introduced in Parliament on Monday (5 Apr) would see commuters being subjected to frisk searches by police officers and other “senior approved persons”.
Under the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill, a “frisk search” refers to a search conducted by quickly running one’s hands over an individual’s outer clothing.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) had initially announced the new security checks on 31 March in their Facebook post, which you can read here:
Security checks will be conducted at random in selected MRT stations, and equipment will be rotated across MRT stations on all lines from time to time.
According to The Straits Times, the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill will amend the Road Traffic Act and the Rapid Transit Systems Act to give police officers and authorised personnel broader powers to screen and search commuters.
The current laws allow for searches only on bags or other items carried by commuters.
The amendments will allow security checks to be carried out at designated entrances of bus interchanges, before the gantries at MRT and LRT stations, as well as any part of these public transport interchanges.
If necessary, checks on buses and trains can be performed too.
The Bill will be debated at the next Parliament sitting.
Attractive Target For Security Threats
You’re probably thinking: isn’t this way too extra and mafan? Won’t this disrupt my daily commute?
Why do us plebs who don’t own cars have to go through this?
Well, LTA points out that the public transport system can be an attractive target for security threats due to its vulnerability and the potential for mass casualties.
“There is a need to step up our existing security measures to stay vigilant against any potential security attacks,” it added.
What Will Happen at These Checks?
The new security checks will include walking through a metal detector, passing your belonging through an X-ray machine and allowing them to be inspected.
See—just like the airport!
Commuters may also need to remove garments like jackets, gloves, shoes and hats.
All of these checks will be performed by a police officer who may or may not be in uniform. Employees of bus and rail operators may also be the ones carrying out the security checks too.
These approved persons must be authorised by the LTA in writing to exercise any power under the proposed laws at a specific bus, train, bus interchange or train station.
The public should also note that only police officers or “senior approved persons” are allowed to frisk search commuters or use handheld scanners to screen commuters.
They consist of auxiliary police officers in uniform, security officers engaged by bus or rail operators, and outsourced enforcement officers appointed by LTA.
New Checks Kick Off At Various MRT Stations
Last Thursday (1 Apr), these enhanced security measures were implemented at several MRT stations across Singapore.
The Straits Times had reported that the screening went very smoothly, the entire process taking less than half a minute to complete.
According to a statement released by LTA, the data extracted from the first day of operations also showed that the time taken to complete the process was indeed less than 30 seconds.
An LTA spokesperson reassured, “These checks are conducted at random and will not cause delays to most commuters.”
The authority added that it would continue to work with public transport operators to review and enhance the process.
This equipment will be rotated amongst all stations across the island, so commuters should bear in mind that those who refuse to be screened may be asked to leave the bus, train, interchange or station.
For refusing or failing to comply with requests or orders made by a police officer or an approved person without a reasonable excuse, they may be fined up to S$1,000.
Feature Image: Facebook (Land Transport Authority – We Keep Your World Moving)