Pokémon GO incidents (2016 & 2017)

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Pokémon GO, an augmented reality game. Photo from Singapore Police Force Facebook.
The crowd at Blk 401, Hougang Ave 10. Photo from TODAY.

Pokémon GO is a popular mobile game developed by Niantic, where players can catch Pokémon on their mobile phones at various locations using augmented reality technology. Pokémon GO was launched in Singapore on 6 August 2016.[1] In conjunction with the launch, Singapore authorities released safety warnings to Singaporeans. However, the game’s immense popularity among the Singapore public had led to a few unfortunate incidents to occur throughout the years 2016 and 2017.

Warnings from authorities[edit | edit source]

Singapore Police Force (SPF)[edit | edit source]

In a Facebook post dated 6 August 2016, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) reminded the public to prioritise their personal safety and gave them the following advice:[2]

  • Co not play alone, play in pairs or as a group.
  • Do not walk onto roads without watching and always be aware of one’s surroundings.
  • Do not play the game and drive, or ride any personal mobility vehicle at the same time.
  • Do not trespass or take pictures of restricted areas and private properties.
  • Remain vigilant about stranger-danger.
  • Do not reveal personal information, and watch out for fake apps or cheat tools that may be used by Cyber criminals to commit fraud.

Public Utilities Board (PUB)[edit | edit source]

In a Facebook post dated 6 August 2016, the Public Utilities Board (PUB) of Singapore also reminded players to be careful and aware of their surroundings when playing the game.[3]

There was a cause for concern for PUB as many Pokéstops are located near PUB’s waterways and canals. This may pose a danger to engrossed players who could fall into the water bodies.[4]

Singapore Army and the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF)[edit | edit source]

The Singapore Army took to Facebook to remind all players to play responsibly by not trespassing into army camps.[5] In the post, they also reminded existing National Servicemen that it is not allowed to use phone cameras in the "green zones" of the camps.[6] The post was received positively by netizens where many praised the author of the post for its numerous Pokémon related puns and references.[7]

On Twitter, The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) also reminded players not to trespass into bases and camps to catch Pokémon.[8]

National Gallery Singapore[edit | edit source]

National Gallery Singapore released a set of guidelines on Facebook on 6 August 2016. These guidelines were directed at visitors who plan to play Pokémon GO in the museum. The guidelines are as follows:[9]

  • Avoid playing around the artworks.
  • Be careful not to bump into other visitors and look out for corners, staircases and other elevated spaces.
  • Be respectful of visitors who are admiring the artworks, and try not to damage any artwork or spaces.
  • Take regular breaks in between playing.

The Gallery also warned that they will remove "unpleasant and uncooperative Pokémon GO trainers" from its premises whenever necessary.[10]

Cardiac arrest in Marina Bay Sands area (2017)[edit | edit source]

A man suffered a cardiac arrest in the Marina Bay area after catching a Lapras. Photo collage from METRO news.

On 26 February 2017, a 67-year old retiree by the name of Liang Weiming suffered a severe cardiac arrest close to the entrance of Bayfront MRT station after having caught a rare Lapras on Pokémon GO.[11] He passed away at roughly 5.30pm. As reported by Lianhe Wanbao, Liang Weiming's widow elaborated that her husband had been consistently visiting the area to hunt for the virtual creatures.[12]

Liang Weiming had a history of cardiac disease and was conveyed to Singapore General Hospital by SCDF paramedics following his heart attack.[13] Based on records from the deceased’s handphone, he had indeed managed to catch the rare Pokémon Lapras and Granbull before he suffered his heart attack.[14]

Scuffle in Plaza Singapura (2016)[edit | edit source]

On 14 August 2016, a dispute between a car driver and a pedestrian at the carpark entrance of Plaza Singapura took place. The Singapore Police Force (SPF) revealed in a press release on 16 August 2016 that the car driver had sounded his car horn at the pedestrian, who was playing Pokémon GO on his phone while crossing the road. This led to a scuffle between the two men. They were both arrested for affray upon the arrival of the police.[15]

Players dash across road in Hougang (2016)[edit | edit source]

A bird's eye view of the crowd of Pokémon GO players at Blk 401, Hougang Avenue 10. Photo from The Straits Times.

Block 401 at Hougang Avenue 10 is a hotbed for Pokémon to spawn, making the area extremely popular with players. On 10 August 2016, at roughly 9.25pm, the rare Pokémon Snorlax spawned at Punggol Park.[16] The news of the spawn caused throngs of Pokémon GO players who were at Blk 401 to rush to across the road to Punggol Park without paying any heed to the incoming traffic.[17] A netizen had submitted a video (SPH video) of the scene to STOMP, capturing the mass of people who were on the road while cars were passing by. At one point in the video, the crowd had blocked an SBS bus from moving.


Additionally, the residents of Hougang Avenue 10 had voiced their complaints about the whole situation. Their unhappiness stemmed from not being able to find parking spaces, the litter left behind by the players, and the noise pollution that continued into late hours.[18]


Hougang Neighbourhood Police Centre responded to the issue in a Facebook post dated 12 August 2016. They urged all players to exercise proper Road Safety, dispose of their own trash, and reduce noise levels at night.[19] The police had also stepped up the number of patrols in the area so as to monitor the crowd.[20]

Dead body found in Woodlands (2016)[edit | edit source]

On 7 August 2016, a Pokémon GO player by the name of “Azmi Suarez” was at Woodlands Waterfront Jetty catching Pokémon when he discovered a body floating in the water.[21] The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) was alerted at roughly 9.45am and identified the body to be female. After SCDF personnel had retrieved the body, the victim was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.[22] Azmi Suarez had shared his encounter on Facebook and his post went viral with 6,500 shares in less than a day. As of May 2019, the Facebook post is no longer publicly visible.[23]

References / Citations[edit | edit source]

  1. "Pokemon GO launches in Singapore". Channel News Asia. August 6, 2016. Accessed on 22 May 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/pokemon-go-launches-in-singapore-7912338
  2. Singapore Police Force. Facebook. August 6, 2016. Accessed on 1 April 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/singaporepoliceforce/posts/police-advisory-on-pok%C3%A9mon-go-game-in-light-of-the-launch-of-pok%C3%A9mon-go-game-in-/10155189910419408/
  3. PUB, Singapore's National Water Agency. Facebook. Accessed on 1 April 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/PUBsg/posts/1050998451657502:0
  4. PUB, Singapore's National Water Agency. Facebook. Accessed on 1 April 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/PUBsg/posts/1050998451657502:0
  5. The Singapore Army. Facebook. August 6, 2016. Accessed on 1 April 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/oursingaporearmy/posts/10154289300331063:0
  6. The Singapore Army. Facebook. August 6, 2016. Accessed on 1 April 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/oursingaporearmy/posts/10154289300331063:0
  7. The Singapore Army. Facebook. August 6, 2016. Accessed on 1 April 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/oursingaporearmy/posts/10154289300331063:0
  8. The RSAF. Twitter. August 6, 2016. Accessed on 1 April 2019. Retrieved from: https://twitter.com/TheRSAF/status/761758588780089344?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E761758588780089344&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.channelnewsasia.com%2Fnews%2F--7846986
  9. National Gallery Singapore. Facebook. August 6, 2016. Accessed on 1 April 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/nationalgallerysg/posts/1428152050533847:0
  10. National Gallery Singapore. Facebook. August 6, 2016. Accessed on 1 April 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/nationalgallerysg/posts/1428152050533847:0
  11. “67-year-old man dies from heart attack after catching prized Pokemon 'Lapras' at MBS''. Stomp. March 1, 2017. Accessed on 1 April 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.asiaone.com/singapore/67-year-old-man-dies-heart-attack-after-catching-prized-pokemon-lapras-mbs
  12. “67-year-old man dies from heart attack after catching prized Pokemon 'Lapras' at MBS''. Stomp. March 1, 2017. Accessed on 1 April 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.asiaone.com/singapore/67-year-old-man-dies-heart-attack-after-catching-prized-pokemon-lapras-mbs
  13. Wilson, Scott. “Singaporean man dies from heart attack after finally catching a coveted Lapras in Pokémon GO''. SORANEWS24. March 4, 2017. Accessed on 22 May 2019. Retrieved from: https://soranews24.com/2017/03/04/singaporean-man-dies-from-heart-attack-after-finally-catching-a-coveted-lapras-in-pokemon-go/
  14. Bhattacharjya, Samhati. "Pokemon hunting leads to death of 67-year-old man in Singapore". International Business Times. March 1, 2017. Accessed on 22 May 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.ibtimes.sg/pokemon-hunting-leads-death-67-year-old-man-singapore-7996
  15. “2 men arrested after getting into fight over Pokemon Go in first such case here”. The Straits Times. August 16, 2016. Accessed on 1 April 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/courts-crime/2-men-arrested-after-getting-into-fight-over-pokemon-go-in-first-such-case
  16. Chiang, Christabel. Andanari, Kintan. Lee, David. “Pokemon Go players risk lives by dashing across road''. The New Paper. August 11, 2016. Accessed on 1 April 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.tnp.sg/news/singapore-news/pokemon-go-players-risk-lives-dashing-across-road
  17. Chiang, Christabel. Andanari, Kintan. Lee, David. “Pokemon Go players risk lives by dashing across road''. The New Paper. August 11, 2016. Accessed on 1 April 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.tnp.sg/news/singapore-news/pokemon-go-players-risk-lives-dashing-across-road
  18. Choo, Felicia. “More police patrols in Hougang's Pokemon Go hot spot''. The Straits Times. August 20, 2016. Accessed on 1 April 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/more-police-patrols-in-pokemon-go-hot-spot
  19. Hougang NPC. Facebook. August 12, 2016. Accessed on 1 April 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/HougangNPC/posts/651234288374080
  20. Choo, Felicia. “More police patrols in Hougang's Pokemon Go hot spot''. The Straits Times. August 20, 2016. Accessed on 1 April 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/more-police-patrols-in-pokemon-go-hot-spot
  21. Wong, Cassandra. “Pokemon GO player chances upon dead body in Woodlands''. Today Online. August 8, 2016. Accessed on 1 April 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/pokemon-go-player-chances-upon-dead-body-woodlands
  22. Wong, Cassandra. “Pokemon GO player chances upon dead body in Woodlands''. Today Online. August 8, 2016. Accessed on 1 April 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/pokemon-go-player-chances-upon-dead-body-woodlands
  23. Wong, Cassandra. “Pokemon GO player chances upon dead body in Woodlands''. Today Online. August 8, 2016. Accessed on 1 April 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/pokemon-go-player-chances-upon-dead-body-woodlands