Foreigner Sentenced To 3 Weeks In Jail For Grabbing Police Officer’s Collar At Changi Airport

Filed Under: Singapore

Travel often seems to bring out the worst behavior in people, and I get why — travel makes people exhausted and stressed, and for many, flying isn’t a common occurrence. So we see airport freakout videos pretty often, though based on news reports, it seems like people are rarely jailed for their behavior.

This behavior can come in many different forms. Sometimes it just comes in the form of hysteria and crazy crying. That I get, and am more understanding of.

However, other times it comes in the form of aggression towards others, damaging property, etc., which isn’t okay.

Well, if there’s one place that’s going to take stuff like this seriously, you know it’s Singapore. For example, last month I wrote about how so far this year 59 people have been arrested at Changi Airport for misusing boarding passes. While it’s a technique people use across the world for various reasons, in Singapore it’s a crime.

So if misusing a boarding pass can get you arrested, what’s the consequence for freaking out? One unlucky guy from New Zealand found out recently. The Straits Times has the story of a guy who was sentenced to three weeks in jail for his behavior at the airport.

On the morning of August 16, 2017, a 37 year old New Zealander transiting Changi Airport enroute from Australia to Bangkok missed his connection while trying to visit his wife-to-be. Here’s what happened after he allegedly drank eight pints of beer and took a nap:

When he woke up, he realised that he had missed his flight and went to the transfer counter to seek help, said Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Quek Jing Feng.

He caused a commotion by spewing vulgarities, throwing his bag and kicking items, unhappy that he had to buy another flight ticket.

When Senior Staff SgtTan and his partner arrived, Hannan was drinking beer in the smoking room.

He became agitated and suddenly grabbed Senior Staff SgtTan’s collar with his right hand. As a result, the radio set attached to the officer’s epaulette fell onto the floor.

The two policemen moved back and advised Hannan to calm down, but he continued to be aggressive, and charged towards them.

Necessary force was then used to place him under arrest as he put up a violent struggle.

The guy’s defense was that his 2.5 year old son had been hospitalized in Thailand with pneumonia, and he was drunk, anxious, and stressed. Now he’ll be sitting in a jail cell for a few weeks thinking about what he did…

While I think most people wouldn’t behave this way, it’s a good reminder that you’re subjected to many of the local laws even when you’re just transiting through a country.

(Tip of the hat to SINJim)

  1. Lucky, change that to just “local laws”, not “many of the local laws”. He should be glad that he did that in Singapore. If he did that in the US, he would be shot dead.

  2. Headline says 3 Weeks In Jail For Grabbing Police Officer’s Collar At Changi Airport.

    Quoted police report says Necessary force was then used to place him under arrest as he put up a violent struggle.

    Not sure that a jail sentence is that unusual anywhere in the world for violently attacking a police officer. In the United States some people would be lucky to walk away from that encounter at all.

  3. If this was the US he would have been shot (only if he was non white) and called a terrorist.

    Thank god he turned out not to be a terrorist

  4. In America that guy would’ve been shot or at least tased… lucky that he was in Singapore and ended up with few weeks imprisonment.

    Not to be xenophobic or anything, but people from richer or stronger countries should remind themselves that them being citizens of powerful (Western) countries doesn’t mean they are immune to local law and custom. Vast majority of tourists are fine, but I saw some disgusting tourists in Southeast Asia who thinks they can do anything and will get away just because they’re white (thus “superior”) and have passports of powerful nations like Britain, France, Australia, Canada etc

    But as I mentioned above, vast majority are fine 🙂

  5. Lucky – question. I understand that a scenario like this warrants the passenger buying another ticket, but I’m curious how often airlines give people the benefit of the doubt and rebook them for free as a courtesy?

  6. In Singapore, jail for 3 weeks is still considered as light sentences, considering that they still have caning as legal corporal punishment. His situation is probably been taken into consideration.

  7. So… grabbing a police officer’s collar and 3 weeks jail time is OK but stealing and hard labour is NOT OK? Duly noted….

  8. I’d say that 3 weeks is fair. He fucked up by being drunk and violent and 3 weeks is not world ending but is a good amount of time to let him reflect on things.

    Of course the problem with that is for visas in the future when he can no longer answer no to “Have you ever been arrested”

  9. @Hmmm, UK, New Zealand or US passports are all considered to be weaker than a Singapore passport. Singapore is not to be grouped in with the rest of Southeast Asia in regards to wealth, considering it is the second wealthiest country in the world (on a per capita basis, after Qatar). While some westerners certainly do act entitled in southeast Asia, that is not, by any means, limited to just westerners.

  10. @Anon
    Gum isn’t illegal for personal consumption and you can actually get prescribed gum pretty easily at most pharmacies.
    Haven’t really seen that many ‘Westerners’ that conduct themselves poorly in Singapore, but I’ve seen plenty of drunk Indian and brown men on the subway.

  11. You know that someone killed someone with a car in Singapore and received 5 weeks. Singapore is a joke when it comes to sentencing and various laws you probably get a longer sentence filming someone in the toilet or coping a feel vs vehicular manslaughter etc

    Ps once in Phuket i missed a flight and arrived in time for flight arrival time in Singapore vs dep time in Phuket thankfully the office was still open and the nice ladies rebooked for free although the next available flight was the next day. the even gave me 500 baht which i did not ask for bcoz i was recently robbed etc long story short i attempted to provide a reward contacted silkair via email but did not get a response so the next time i was in phuket i did so in person. there are nice people out there sometimes who will help you out but if you are a drunk asshole no ones gonna help you.

  12. @seekeroftruth do you even live in singapore? head to clark quay or ann siang hill and you will see lots of drunk white ppl misbehaving

  13. This article is pointless. In each example these people’s behavior would be unjustifiable in any country even their own.

  14. You really don’t want to mess with Singapore. I think people should really behave just like they normally would in their own country anyway. Behaviors like that are just not acceptable.

  15. Committing battery on a peace officer regardless of the circumstances, is still battery. I wonder if the perp was a Bangala or a mainlander, if the sentence would have been as lenient.

  16. Damn evil racist white people. All white people should be sebt the their own island abd never allowed to leave

  17. notwahite, what do you mean by ” sebt the their own island abd ” ?
    is that ebonic or junglish?

  18. “One unlucky guy from New Zealand”

    Nope, not unlucky, a moron who actually got off pretty lightly.

  19. In America the officer woukd be thrown in jail for wearing a colar to work. The same in Canada except the foreigner would be given $12 million in compensation.

  20. Funny how being intoxicated has become so globally acceptable.
    I wonder if Saudia has less incidence of disruptive travelers.
    Question: Would you quit the whole flying process if Alcohol was unavailable at the airport and on the aircraft?
    Just musing….

  21. #FakeNews.

    He was NOT sentenced “for Grabbing Police Officer’s Collar”.

    But kudos to Singapore for jailing someone who charged the police, threatened the employee, and acting in an uncivilized manner (“spewing vulgarities, throwing his bag and kicking items”). There would be a lot less of this type of silly incidents in the world if all countries were as fair as Singapore.

  22. @Jay
    Not as aggressive as those Indians in my experience. And yes, I have lived in Singapore.
    Surprised no one mentioned that just because he has an NZ passport, it doesn’t mean he is White or even Maori. Maybe he’s actually from the Middle East, where this kind of barbaric behavior is common and accepted?

  23. Hmmmmm, I think he should feel fortunate that he’s received only three weeks’ prison time. A potential alternative could be to add several strokes of the cain to his sentence.

    I understand that, over many years of perfecting the punishment, it is delivered with such force and precision so that it causes permanent scarring and pain upon sitting. Not great when you’ve got a long flight ahead of you. Perhaps a few drinks could soften the pain but perhaps not.

  24. @docntx

    If you look back a few days, you would see that Lucky (I’m sure it was a Lucky and not one of the others) has written an article on this very subject.

    I could give you his answer but would hate to ruin it for you.

  25. So conclusion from many earlier comments are America is the most dangerous place in the world in term of enforcing law by police.

  26. “While I think most people wouldn’t behave this way, it’s a good reminder that you’re subjected to many of the local laws even when you’re just transiting through a country.”

    Lucky – I genuinely enjoy most of your posts and your enthusiasm, but why do you sometimes include statements (like the above) in that downplay the victimiser? Or were you trying to take a dig at Singapore’s laws?

    I agree with the majority of the comments ahead of me … that guy most likely was acting like a self-entitled a***hole. Would you have tolerated something like this in the USA or anywhere else in the West? In all likelihood, he would have behaved himself for the white plebeian that he is. Take them out of the West, and you get such people acting up.

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