Spotted this unusual looking item at Changi Airport. The first thing that came to my mind was its resemblance to a bomb. You know how it is, so much public education being drummed into everyone to report every suspicious item (or persons). Had it not been on a trolley, accompanied by a pail and a mop, this would certainly have aroused suspicion. Well it turns out that this was just a water tank, used to water the indoor plants at the airport. So nothing to worry about.
Has anyone had the need to report suspicious items? I always find there are so many mysterious suspicious items around every day, many of them so trivial you don’t really bother to think twice about them. The public education advertisements often try to use examples of unattended bags or parcels. What is so suspicious about them? I mean, haven’t you seen unattended bags and parcels? For example, at the canteen in my school, it is quite the norm for students to leave their bags to “reserve” seats at tables, then disappear to get their lunch. Or to “reserve” seats at computer labs, tutorial rooms, etc. Unattended bags eh, the public education thingy say should report it. (Incidentally, the stupid thing about our students is that they leave notebook computers lying around unattended too, sometimes not even packed in their bag but exposed on the tables. Then the notebook computers get stolen. This shall be subject of another post some other time…)
Okay, so common sense tells us those things above are “ok”. No need to panic, no need to call police. But haven’t you heard of hiding in plain sight? Ah. That makes things more complicated.
I shan’t mention names or place, but this is one incident I came across. An unattended parcel was spotted. Building security was informed. The security officer called the police. So police came, building evacuated, blah blah blah. Turns out the parcel was nothing suspicious. In the ensuing investigation, the cleaner identified the parcel as having been left at the same spot for many days. Then, the question came up about how come building security did not check out the parcel, why did they not notice the parcel (when the cleaner had seen it for many days), why why why. It seems this case became one of “making a false report”. I heard the manager in-charge of security was asked to go on leave (i.e. suspended).
So it seems like there’s a bit of mixed signals eh? Public education messages say must report. So you report it. Having reported, turns out to be false alarm, and you get into trouble?