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'Wish someone had told me this before': Family detained at Changi Airport over kids' toy water guns after Thailand trip

'Wish someone had told me this before': Family detained at Changi Airport over kids' toy water guns after Thailand trip
Lalitha Rajah and her family were stopped at customs at Changi Airport for bringing two toy water guns back.
PHOTO: Screengrab/Instagram/Lalitha Rajah

A family of four attempted to bring a splash of fun back from their holiday, only to have cold water poured on them when they returned to Singapore.

In a video posted on Instagram on May 29, Singaporean Lalitha Rajah said they were detained by the airport police after two toy water guns were found in their luggage.

Rajah, her Australian husband and their two children flew back on April 16, after a six-day holiday in Phuket where they partook in the Songkran water festival that celebrates the Thai New Year.

The couple had brought the toy water guns that they used in the festivities back to Singapore so their kids could keep them as mementos. 


However, just as they were exiting customs at Changi Airport Terminal 2, the family was asked to turn back and have their bags scanned again. 

"They opened up all our bags, looking for [the] toy water guns," Rajah recounted in her video.

Each of the toy guns is attached to a plastic backpack, which could be filled up like a tank to feed water into the gun via a plastic pipe, she said.

Rajah added that her husband was taken to a room and detained for about an hour, where he saw other people who had brought similar toys back.

She told AsiaOne: "An officer told him that they had stopped so many people and families that week who came back from Thailand with water guns because of the water festival.

"We explained repeatedly that these were plastic toys and not real guns. The officer’s response was 'they can be modified'."

Before her husband was released, he was asked to sign an acknowledgement slip and an advisory slip by the Singapore Police Force (SPF), confirming that he brought controlled items into the country and that they would be seized by the police.

Rajah added that she posted about the incident to warn others who may not be aware of the laws regarding toy guns and save them the same hassle her family went through.

"I wish someone had told me this beforehand, it would've saved us a lot of time and upset children," she wrote.

Some netizens expressed shock at Rajah's experience and said they were also not aware of such laws.

One netizen commented: "No way! I can't comprehend this! So to be clear, they seized the 'dangerous' guns?"

Another one wrote: "Wow, thanks. Never knew about this."

Approval needed to bring in controlled items

According to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) website, an import licence or authorisation from SPF's licensing division is needed to bring toy or replica guns into Singapore as they are controlled items.

An advisory issued by the Police Licensing and Regulatory Department and the SPF in March 2021 also listed toy and replica guns, including water guns, as controlled items.

The approval can be in the form of an import licence, permit, authorisation, or approval letter from the PLRD or SPF.

ALSO READ: Photo of boy carrying 'assault rifle' in Yishun has Singaporeans discussing toy guns

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