Singapore: Swiss national charged over train vandalism

On 17 May, Swiss national Oliver Fricker and his suspected accomplice, Briton Lloyd Dane Alexander, allegedly breached the perimeter fence at the Singapore Mass Rapid Transit (SMRT) Changi Depot.  The two men are alleged to have then spray-painted graffiti on one of the carriages of the trains.

A video of the incident was posted on YouTube the next day and the online community quickly picked it up and the video went viral on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, and also on blogs and forums.

SMRT's staff only discovered the act of vandalism two days later, on 19 May, after the act was first committed. Fricker was charged in court on 5 June for vandalising the MRT train by spraying graffiti on it and damaging public property by cutting a wired fence. An Interpol arrest warrant is out on Lloyd Dane Alexander. The Briton is believed to have left Singapore and is in Hong Kong. In Singapore, vandalism is punishable by up to three years in jail or a maximum fine of S$2,000, plus three to eight strokes of the cane.

While SMRT apologised for the security breach, displeased bloggers have been asking why security was so poor at the depot.

Singaporean socio-political blogger, Kristen Han wrote that this incident was a wake up call for SMRT:

SMRT could not have learned this lesson in a way that was cheaper or safer; they could have been learning it from an overpaid security consultant, or from the aftermath of a planted bomb.

Singaporean design blogger, Pure Libre, wanted the Singapore government to look at the real issue at hand:

The vandalism itself is not really an issue. While still a criminal act, nonetheless, at worst it was nothing more than a harmless (and admittedly highly artistic) prank. Certainly, while the two miscreants responsible should be appropriately punished for it, the government has clearly missed out on the real issue here, namely what sort of security does SMRT have in place at its premises that two bored young men could make a complete fool of it publicly.

Singaporean blogger, Roger Poh, writes that instead of punishing Fricker and Alexander, SMRT should be punished:

Instead of charging the Swiss national for trespass and vandalism, Singapore should thank him and give him the key to the city.
Single-handedly, he has exposed SMRT security lapses and given us a timely wake-up call.
Transport operators in Singapore should be held responsible if there are any incidents on trains, stations and buses as a consequence of inadequate security.
The onus is on transport operators to provide security for its commuters.

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