ON SUNDAY, at about 3pm, my friends and I were at Changi Airport Terminal 1. One of my alert friends noticed an unattended bag near a check-in counter. We looked around and waited for about one minute, but no one went near the luggage.
Not sure who to approach, we went to the nearest Garuda Indonesia counter and told one of the staff members. The man replied: 'Oh no, we're in trouble. Call the police.'
We were taken aback by his response, as it sounded as though he was mocking us. He then walked to the luggage, took a look, then strolled back to the counter and continued chit-chatting with his fellow workers.
Upset at his indifference, I walked farther to the entrance of the Departure Hall and spoke to an Immigration and Checkpoints Authority officer there. For a moment, he looked confused as I told him about the unattended luggage. Then he went away for a while and came back with another officer, who I assume was his supervisor. The supervisor asked me for my name and contact number. I told him about the unattended luggage and that someone should look into it quickly. But he insisted I give my particulars first. With that, he left instructions to his subordinate to take down my particulars and walked away.
I was really frustrated, but decided to cooperate and was about to give him my particulars when my friends came over and said the owner had shown up and collected the luggage. So the matter came to a close.
The whole incident has left me very disturbed. We have always been told to inform the authorities should we see any unattended luggage. Yet, as this incident has shown, some staff at Changi Airport are not trained to handle such situations.
I admit I may not have approached the 'right' person. But surely all staff at Changi Airport - a likely terrorist target - should be trained to react appropriately. Or am I supposed to locate those men with rifles and tell them?
Nor do I understand the obsession with paperwork such as taking down my particulars. I understand there may be a need to do so, but couldn't they have sent someone to check the luggage while another officer took down my particulars?
If the unattended luggage we saw had contained a bomb, every minute would count.
Would the authorities care to comment?
Chua Mei Ling (Ms)