A whiff of deceit: Bak kwa smugglers nabbed at Woodlands

ICA officers caught two Singaporeans who tried to bring in bak kwa from Malaysia by hiding the meat product in packets of durian-flavoured biscuits.
ICA officers caught two Singaporeans who tried to bring in bak kwa from Malaysia by hiding the meat product in packets of durian-flavoured biscuits.PHOTO: IMMIGRATION AND CHECKPOINTS AUTHORITY

Two travellers were caught trying to smuggle bak kwa into Singapore in packets of durian-flavoured biscuits at Woodlands checkpoint.

On Thursday, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority said its officers detected two separate cases of Singaporeans attempting to sneak in the barbecued meat treat at the arrival bus hall of the checkpoint last Saturday.

Officers noticed packets of layered stacks resembling bak kwa in scanned images of bags carried by the two - a 39-year-old woman and a 29-year-old man.

The pair were found to have hidden the bak kwa in seven packets of durian-flavoured biscuits.

The cases were referred to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) for further investigation.

Food products brought into Singapore must meet AVA's guidelines, and be from approved sources.

In the case of meat products, such as bak kwa, each person is allowed to bring in a maximum of 5kg bought directly from approved sources.

 
 

Currently, only 21 countries are listed as approved sources on AVA's website, but Malaysia is not one of them. This means it is illegal to bring in bak kwa from Malaysia.

Anyone found guilty of importing meat products from unapproved sources can be fined up to $50,000, jailed for up to two years, or both. Repeat offenders can be fined up to $100,000, jailed for up to three years, or both.

A similar incident occurred around the Chinese New Year period in February last year, when two motorists attempted to smuggle bak kwa into Singapore through Woodlands checkpoint.

In last year's case, the bak kwa was hidden in pastry or cookie packaging.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2019, with the headline 'A whiff of deceit: Bak kwa smugglers nabbed at Woodlands'. Print Edition | Subscribe