Story of Indonesian Man Who Swam from Malaysia to Singapore Using Trash Bag


In a bold and persistent act of defiance, an Indonesian man, Muhammad Izal, has once again made headlines by returning to Singapore illegally, despite being previously deported and banned for immigration violations.

This time, he swam from Malaysia using a trash bag as a makeshift flotation device, ultimately leading to his capture and sentencing.

According to CNA, Izal, aged 34, was sentenced on Thursday, November 2, to 15 months in jail and seven strokes of the cane for his illegal entry into Singapore. He pleaded guilty to charges of entering Singapore without a valid pass and entering without permission, fully aware of his previous deportation from Singapore in May 2022.

Court documents reveal that Izal has been charged with immigration offenses in Singapore on four previous occasions. He was last charged in August 2021 for entering Singapore without a valid pass and for illegally returning to Singapore after being deported.

Izal was subsequently convicted in September 2021 and sentenced to one year in jail, along with six strokes of the cane.

Upon his release from prison in April 2022, Izal was referred to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) for repatriation. In the lead-up to his deportation on May 28, 2022, he received a written notice explicitly banning him from reentering Singapore, effective from the date of his deportation.


The notice specified that he was required to obtain prior written permission from the Controller of Immigration to enter or reside in Singapore in the future. Failure to comply would result in prosecution and a potential jail term ranging from one to three years upon conviction. Izal acknowledged this notice by placing his thumbprint on it and was subsequently deported back to Indonesia, as per the report.

However, Izal’s stay in his home country was brief, lasting only seven months.

Driven by a desire for illegal employment in Singapore, he embarked on a journey that involved a ferry ride from Batam, Indonesia, to Stulang Laut in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. After two nights in Malaysia, he set out for a beach and initiated a swim towards Singapore’s Pulau Ubin island.

To traverse the waters, Izal ingeniously used a black trash bag as an inflatable floating device, as detailed in court documents. Upon reaching Pulau Ubin, he took a half-hour rest before resuming his swim towards Changi Beach.

In an astounding display of determination, Izal entered Singapore undetected and remained in the country illegally for approximately ten months until his arrest on October 23, 2023. He was apprehended by ICA officers at Woodlands Road when he failed to provide any evidence of legal residency in Singapore.

During the subsequent investigation, Izal’s fingerprints were matched to an individual with an “adverse record” under the name of Muhammad Izal.

In an attempt at mitigation, Izal expressed remorse for his actions and cited his responsibilities towards his children and ailing parents.

Images for illustration only

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