121 live birds, 4,500 sachets of chewing tobacco seized from tour bus at Woodlands

LOW YOUJIN Today Online 28 Feb 18;

SINGAPORE – An attempt to smuggle 121 live birds and 4,500 sachets of chewing tobacco was foiled by immigration officials at the Woodlands Checkpoint early Monday (Feb 26) morning.

The birds, along with the contraband goods, were detected by customs officials at around 6am when they conducted a search on a Malaysian-registered tour bus, according to a joint-media release by the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA), Health Sciences Authority (HSA) and Agri-food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) on Wednesday (Feb 28).

TODAY understands that the 30-year-old male driver is a Malaysian citizen. He was charged on Wednesday.

The authorities said ICA officers discovered three black bundles in red plastic bags, which were later found to contain the chewing tobacco, in the luggage compartment located on the right side of the bus.

The birds were also found on the same side of the bus, though concealed in another compartment. The authorities said that live Fischer's Lovebirds, Red Whiskered Bulbuls, White Rumped Shamas and Spotted Doves were found in 10 boxes.

The Fischer's Lovebird is classified as a protected species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

According to the joint-statement, the driver, live birds and the bus were handed over to the AVA for investigation purposes, while the tobacco was referred to the HSA.

The authorities remind the public that the import and sale of chewing tobacco is prohibited in Singapore. Any person who is convicted of importing chewing tobacco can face a fine of up to S$10,000 and/or jailed up to six months for the first offence.

Repeat offenders can be fined up to S$20,000 and/or jailed up to 12 months.

The authorities said that CITES permits are required for any import, export and re-export of CITES species, including their parts and products.

Under the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act, offenders can be fined up to S$50,000 per scheduled species (not exceeding a maximum aggregate of S$500,000) and/or imprisonment of up to two years upon conviction.

The authorities added that the import of animals and birds without a licence is an offence under the Animals and Birds Act.

Any person, on conviction, is liable to a fine of up to S$10,000, and/or imprisonment of up to 12 months.

Furthermore, any person who causes any unnecessary pain or suffering to any animal shall be liable upon conviction to a fine of up to S$15,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 18 months.