UPDATE: Changi Airport Group (CAG) clarifies to the letter writer and our readers that the security officer followed all procedures and was authorised by the owner of the bag to collect the item on his behalf.
We reproduce CAG’s letter in full:
“We refer to a letter to theindependent.sg by Chatter Box ‘Did Changi Airport give award to security officer who did not follow procedure?’, published on 25 Apr 2016.
We thank the writer for the feedback.
At Changi Airport, as part of our procedure for the handling of lost and found items, when an airport staff comes across such an item, he or she should hand it to one of the airport’s information counters, where a report will be filed.
The finder and the customer service staff at the information counter will verify the item and its contents, and will seek to contact the owner.
In this instance, we assure the writer that the security operations executive who found the laptop bag followed the proper steps, and that the owner had authorised him to collect the item on his behalf.”
The following is a letter by our reader, Chatter Box.
I refer to The Straits Times article, ‘Going the extra mile to return lost items‘ published on 13 April 2016.
The article said that Mr Haresh Chandran flew to Trichy in India to return a laptop bag to a passenger who had departed from Singapore. He allegedly paid for his own flight. For this, Mr Haresh Chandran was awarded the Gold for outstanding service staff of the year at the Changi Airport Group annual airport celebration.
Mr Haresh Chandran, a Certis Cisco Aviation Security Service operation executive, was handed the laptop bag by another airport staff. He found a telephone number in the bag and called. Obviously, he opened the bag and rummaged through the contents. However, there is a legal poser on this act.
Was it lawful for Mr Haresh Chandran to open the laptop bag rather than hand over the laptop bag intact to the Lost and Found Department? The incident raises great discomfort.
Changi Airport has procedures for handling of items found without ownership and lying unattended.
1) In the holding area of a departure flight:
Items found lying unattended and without ownership in the holding area of a departure flight must be handed over intact to the ground staff of the airline. From there, the airline would proceed to return the item to the rightful owner.
2) In open areas of airport:
Any item found lying around unattended in the airport must be handed over to the Information Counters or the Lost and Found Department. With a large item like the laptop bag, etc and for safety reasons, call the Airport Police. From there, the police would proceed with check and removal procedures.
As an executive of Certis Cisco Aviation Security Service, Mr Haresh Chandran should know the procedures. He might have done an unlawful act by opening the laptop bag rather than hand over the laptop bag intact to the Lost and Found Department or the Information Counter.
If so, by honoring him , Changi Airport Group would give a wrong message that any airport staff could open and rummage a bag etc found lying unattended without fear of wrongdoing.
The Lost and Found Department is there for a purpose, to receive, trace and return lost and found items to the rightful owners. It has proper documentation, and in cases of complaints it could find out the truth.