Singapore metro says sorry for 'serious' security lapse
Singapore's metro operator has apologised for a "serious" security lapse that enabled two intruders to spray-paint graffiti on a train, which staff mistook for an elaborate advertisement.
The incident in May, allegedly involving two Europeans, raised questions about security at key facilities in Singapore, which claims it is a prime terrorist target and constantly warns commuters to watch out for suspicious persons and packages in trains.
"We deeply regret that a serious security lapse occurred in our depot," Saw Phaik Hwa, chief executive and president of transport conglomerate SMRT Corp., said in a company statement made available to AFP on Wednesday.
"Since the breach, we have taken immediate steps to strengthen our security to prevent (a) recurrence," she said.
A Singapore-based Swiss business consultant who is now out on bail and a British visitor who has left the island are accused of breaking into a depot and painting intricate graffiti on a parked train before dawn on May 17.
Oliver Fricker, 32, who posted 100,000 Singapore dollars (71,000 US) bail on Monday, and his alleged British accomplice, Lloyd Dane Alexander, could be jailed, fined and caned if found guilty of trespass and vandalism.
Local media speculated they could be part of an underground group of graffiti artists using metro trains around the world to display their work.
Singapore on Tuesday asked Interpol for information on Alexander, the initial step for any extradition process.
The SMRT statement admitted that its staff spotted the graffiti early "but did not sound the alarm, as it was done artistically and mistaken for an advertisement", allowing the defaced train to operate for two days.
It said more surveillance cameras would be installed and concertina wire would reinforce perimeter security at all depots.
The train operator assured Singaporeans that metro staff were trained to handle emergency situations including chemical, biological, radiological and explosive threats.
Singapore's metro system serves 1.5 million passengers daily out of five train depots.
© 2010 AFP