Holycrit duo jailed and fined for organising illegal races without police approval and permit

Bike shop owner Eric Khoo Shui Yan (right) and project manager Zulkifli Awab were each jailed for seven days and fined $5,000 on Tuesday (Oct 4) for organising and promoting illegal bicycle races without police approval and permits.
Bike shop owner Eric Khoo Shui Yan (right) and project manager Zulkifli Awab were each jailed for seven days and fined $5,000 on Tuesday (Oct 4) for organising and promoting illegal bicycle races without police approval and permits. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - Two men who organised and promoted illegal bicycle races without police approval and permits were each jailed for seven days and fined $5,000 on Tuesday (Oct 4).

Former bike shop owner Eric Khoo Shui Yan, 29, and project manager Zulkifli Awab, 40, had pleaded guilty in August to four charges each - two each of promoting the race without approval and conducting it without a permit - with 12 others taken into consideration.

In all, they organised eight editions of the night-time race called HolyCrit at various locations across the island.

The two races which were proceeded in court concerned the race along Stadium Drive on Sept 26, 2014 and Tanglin Halt Road on Nov 29 that year.

Both men had met through their mutual hobby and eventually came up with the idea of organising a series of cycling races for fixed-gear bicycles - bicycles with only one gear and no brakes.

Each race participant would pay $10 registration fee to the duo, which sum would enter a general pool to be given to the first-placed winner of that day's race.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Yvonne Poon said Khoo and Zulkifli would visit potential race locations, observe the traffic situation at the scene, and plan an estimated route with a start and end point before confirming the use of the location.

Zulkilfli would be in charge of briefing the cyclists on the race route, the rules, basic safety regulation and what to wear, and to have lights fixed on their bicycles .

 
 

During the race, participants would have to cycle laps along the stipulated route for 35 minutes . To be declared the winner, there would be two last laps where participants would vie with each other to be the first cyclist to cross the finish line.

The court heard that during the November 2014 race, 32 cyclists took part with a sizeable number of spectators present. There was a construction site nearby. The duo also obtained seven to eight traffic cones from the side of the road to mark out a turning point from Tanglin Halt Road into Tanglin Halt Close.

A 25-year-old man called the police at 11.49pm, stating that he nearly hit the cyclists and did not realise a race was on.

Khoo's lawyers Josephus Tan and Cory Wong said besides creating awareness for fixed-gear cycling, Khoo organised HolyCrit out of his passion, and to build a strong community spirit around it.

Zulkifli's lawyer Shashi Nathan, together with Mr Jeremy Pereira, said his client had only good and genuine intentions when he helped Khoo to organise those races.

The races were aimed solely to provide an avenue for fellow cycling enthusiasts to meet, socialise and compete with one another in a friendly setting, he said.

Both men's counsel had asked that a nominal day's jail be imposed for the promoting of the race charge .

In passing sentence, District Judge Carol Ling said she did not think two days' imprisonment for each of the accused would be an adequate sentence. She said there was a certain level of disregard to the law displayed in holding these HolyCrit races.

She noted that public safety was compromised. She found that the duo had displayed a lack of consideration for other legitimate road users and placed the safety of participants and spectators on these road races at risk.

The maximum penalty for promoting any competition or trial of speed is six months' jail and a $2,000 fine. For conducting an event without a permit, the maximum penalty is a $1,000 fine or three months' jail.