By Khushwant Singh
It was the biggest seizure of illegal wildlife from a home in 11 years and naturally the offender received one of the biggest fines ever meted out for such offences. Ong Ming Siang, 33, was fined a total of $41,000 on Thursday after pleading guilty to contravening the Endangered Species (Import & Export) Act and the Wild Animals and Birds Act.
Read the media statement from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) here:
A man was sentenced to a fine of $41,000 for the possession of illegal wildlife on 6 February 2014. This is the highest penalty that has been sentenced to a private individual for the possession of illegal wildlife.
Acting on a public tip off, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) conducted inspection at a HDB flat and seized 32 wild animals from the flat on 3 June 2013.
Investigations by AVA showed that all the animals had been imported into Singapore without the relevant import permits.
Out of the 32 animals, 19 animals were classified as endangered species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and would require additional CITES import permits from AVA on top of the import permit.
A permit is required for the import and export/re-export of animals to and from Singapore. As Singapore is a signatory to the CITES, it is an offence to be in possession or to trade in any illegally imported or acquired CITES species. If found guilty, the offender shall be liable, on conviction, to a maximum fine of $50,000 per specimen (not to exceed an aggregate of $500,000) and/or jail term of up to 2 years.
AVA would like to remind the public not to import or keep wild animals as pets as demand for such animals would fuel illegal wildlife trade.
Wild animals are not suitable pets as some may transmit zoonotic diseases to humans and can be a public safety risk if mishandled or if they escape into our dense urban environment.
Wild animals that are non-native to Singapore may also be a threat to our bio-diversity if released into the environment.
While AVA continues to ensure that regulatory measures against illegal wildlife activities are in place and properly enforced, the public can play their part too.
Should members of the public have information on illegal wildlife activities, please contact AVA at 6325 7625 to make a report immediately. All information shared with AVA will be kept strictly confidential.