Man fined S$18,000 for smuggling over 300 singing birds

SINGAPORE: A site engineer was fined S$18,000 on Monday after smuggling in more than 300 singing birds from Malaysia, three—quarters of which died as a result of their confinement.

Winston Boo Kiang Cheng, 38, was found guilty of three counts of contravening the Animals and Birds Act, after he brought in the birds without a licence by the Agri—Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) and causing them unnecessary suffering.

Boo committed the offences on 1 November last year, a day after he purchased the birds for RM558 (S$229) from a pet shop in Malaysia.

The court heard that he wanted to bring the birds into Singapore for "religious purposes."

The birds were found hidden in the boot and beneath the rear passenger seat of his car during a check at Woodlands Checkpoint at 10.40pm on that day.

Boo used a piece of black cloth to conceal the birds which included 253 Spotted Munia birds, 48 Oriental White Eye birds, and 1 Shama bird.

All 302 birds were packed into eleven cages, toilet roll cardboards, a pipe and two plastic trays.

AVA officers said the birds were confined in cramped and restrictive conditions.

The authorities also noted that a few of the birds were "clinging onto the top of the cages" and appeared to be weak and dying slowly.

The birds had also not been given food and water during their seven—hour journey from Johor to Singapore.

227 birds died within two days of their arrival in Singapore.

AVA Prosecutor Officer Mr Yap Teck Chuan said that Boo had "total disregard for the welfare of the birds" after transporting them "in a very unpleasant manner."

Mr Yap added that Boo was aware that importing the birds was prohibited, but still went on to purchase them as they were "cheaper."

AVA’s conditions for the importation of pet birds require that ornamental birds only be imported from bird flu—free countries and have negative test results for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza.

The birds also have to be quarantined at a government approved quarantine premises for 21 days prior to their export to Singapore.

If these rules are not complied with, the AVA will detain the birds for further tests, return the birds to the country of origin or destroy them if necessary.

— CNA/ck