SINGAPORE - A concrete mixer driver was jailed for three months on Monday (June 13) for smuggling in three red-whiskered bulbul and ill-treating them.
Two of the birds were found squeezed individually inside two cylindrical polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes, and the third was in a wrapped piece of paper which was stapled at both ends.
Jalal Basiron Samad, 47, had admitted to importing the three birds from Malaysia without a licence. He also failed to take reasonable steps to ensure that the birds were not kept in confinement and conveyed in a manner that subjected them to unreasonable or unnecessary pain or suffering.
The Singaporean had gone to Larkin, Johor, on March 4 and bought the birds from a man named Rashid for RM1,000 (S$331).
Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) prosecutor Yap Teck Chuan said last month (May 11) that Jalal arrived at Woodlands Checkpoint in a private taxi with five other passengers .
The birds were found in his haversack underneath the front passenger seat during a routine inspection that morning. Jalal was seated at the front passenger seat.
Two of the birds were hidden in PVC tubes and one was in a wrapped piece of paper. Rashid bound the tubes together using rubber band and the two ends of the tube were covered with green nylon netting.
Mr Yap had submitted for a sentence of three months' jail to be imposed on each charge.
He said illegal importation carries the risk of introducing deadly diseases such as bird flu into Singapore.
To date, Singapore has been one of the few countries in the region to remain free from bird flu. As at April 4 this year, the World Health Organization has recorded 850 human cases of bird flu with 499 fatalities.
Mr Yap had argued that stiffer sentences were necessary to deter and stem such offences.
"The efforts of AVA and other authorities in regulating importation and enforcing quarantine measures in order to ensure the safety of Singaporeans will be futile if offenders continue to import animals and birds from dubious sources through illegal means," he said.
The problem is compounded by the fact that such offences are very hard to detect given the amount of traffic across Causeway every day.
Jalal said in mitigation that he is the sole bread winner of the family. He has four school-going children and elderly parents to support.
He could have been fined up to $10,000 and or jailed for up to 12 months for each offence.