Hsu Chun Meng was on Scoot flight TR634 bound for Hat Yai, Thailand on April 5. Having been told that he had to check in his carry-on bag, he made a joke about having a bomb in that bag.
As a result of his careless remarks, the plane turned back to Singapore, escorted by fighter jets from the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF).
Mr. Hsu, age 41, received a fine of $4,500 on October 2, Tuesday, for having transgressed the Protection from Harassment Act because he used words that not only threatened but caused alarm.
District Judge Adam Nakhoda emphasized the need for preventing jokes of a similar nature from being made, and therefore showed no tolerance for Mr. Hsu’s deed.
Details of the incident
When Mr. Hsu’s bag could not fit in the overhead bin, the flight attendant, Boo Joe We, age 23, told him it needed to be checked in instead. After several attempts to close the bin again, he agreed to check in the luggage, albeit unhappily.
Ms. Boo, before checking in Mr. Hsu’s baggage, asked him if his carry-on contained any prohibited items.
He jokingly replied, “Nothing, only bomb.”
When the flight attendant gave him a look, he said to her, “No bomb lah. Joking. How can it be?”
Mr. Hsu later said that he found Ms. Boo’s attitude and manner of speaking to him to be upsetting.
Although Ms. Boo did not immediately react to Mr. Hsu’s saying he had a bomb in his bag, she did tell her superior, Ms. Ginny Chiong Wen Chin, age 26, about it just before the plane departed.
Ms. Chiong in turn told the pilot about it once the plane had taken off, since she had been unable to go into the cockpit during takeoff.
The pilot sent a “Mayday” message to Malaysian air traffic control, according to protocol, and then told Singapore air traffic control that the plane was heading back.
RSAF fighter planes came to escort the Scoot flight back to Changi Airport, and the flight landed in a remote area of the airfield.
Police entered the scene and while passengers deplaned, performed security checks. Mr. Hsu and the two friends who were with him, along with all their luggage, were isolated from the rest of the passengers, and were checked carefully.
No bombs were found, and the flight was allowed to take off after a total of four hours and 48 minutes delay, along with a fresh crew and pilots.
The passengers were given vouchers totaling $13,757.60 because of the inconvenience and delay.