Escaping detection from authorities even in ‘no-nonsense’ Singapore

The Woodlands Checkpoint near the Singapore-Johor border. Thousands of Malaysians travel daily to Singapore to work, but there are other illegal ways to move around the city-state.

PETALING JAYA: Suspected illegal immigrants including from Malaysia have been escaping detection from the authorities even in Singapore, known for its no-nonsense enforcement of laws, using routes one will not find on popular navigation apps.

Following a tip-off, Singapore’s The Straits Times followed a network of canals hidden from public view in the city-state, allowing illegals and possibly criminals to move around.

The paper discovered men using canals and monsoon drains covered by thick bushes in the northern part of Singapore, nearer to its borders with Johor.

“A person could use the network of drains to walk undetected from Woodlands Road to Segar Road. From there, via the forest, you could walk to Bukit Timah Hill or Mandai,” it added.

A reporter also stumbled upon a group of Malaysians, who told them they were working in the city-state, but were too afraid to speak to the press.

“We speak to them and learn they are Malaysians who just ‘moved in’ and are ‘working’ in the vicinity,” the paper said.

Other discoveries include zinc-roofed shelters in the forest, complete with mattresses, furniture and kitchen utensils.

And as if to indicate links to criminal activities, a wig and an empty wallet were also discovered.

Two years ago, Singapore authorities raided a makeshift camp some 3km away from here, arresting Indonesian illegal immigrants and seizing contraband cigarettes.

Sources told ST that the area has a history of illegal cigarette-peddling activities.

“These hideouts are secluded, yet close enough to Housing Board estates where peddlers can buy food and sell their contraband cigarettes,” the paper quoted a former enforcement officer as saying.

Following the report, authorities have secured the area, and warned the public of laws against entering drains.

“Heavy rainfall in upstream locations will cause sudden and rapid water flow, posing a serious danger to anyone in the drains,” said the Public Utilities Board, adding that entering waterways without approval is an offence carrying a fine of up to S$3,000 (RM9,000).