Curry puff woman was part of foreign syndicate

Curry puff woman was part of foreign syndicate

She was fined for running a curry puff "factory" in her home.

But Madam Robiah Lia Caniago, 40, did not work alone - she was part of a foreign syndicate mass-producing curry puffs, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) yesterday.

The conditions in which they produced their snacks were also far from ideal.

Pictures released by the agency showed the curry puffs being made on a mat on the floor of her two-room Lengkok Bahru flat.

A frying pot containing dark-coloured oil can be seen beside the rubbish chute in the kitchen.

"The food preparation was done in a very unhygienic condition and caused disamenities to the neighbours such as smell nuisance," said NEA.

Madam Robiah was fined $3,000 for running a food business without a licence. As she could not pay the fine, she was jailed for five days instead.

The Indonesian's case, which was reported in The New Paper on Monday, generated much attention.

Her story drew over 97,000 shares on our website and more than 1,000 comments on our Facebook page.

Many readers felt that she was trying to make an honest living and should not be penalised for it.

Others felt that given her financial situation, she should have been let off with just a warning.

A number of readers also wrote to TNP wanting to help her, with a number offering her work in their companies.

Details from NEA yesterday, however, cast new light on her case.

The agency said it had received complaints about curry puffs being prepared in bulk for sale in Madam Robiah's flat.

On June 27 last year, officers from NEA, Housing Board and Ministry of Manpower inspected the flat and found Madam Robiah and eight others - believed to be a foreign syndicate - preparing curry puffs on the floor of the two-room flat.

This was the second inspection in a month on the flat and Madam Robiah had continued to run the "factory" despite being warned the first time, said NEA.

All nine people involved in making the curry puffs, including Madam Robiah, were also on social visit passes.

RELATIVES

Madam Robiah claimed they were her relatives, the agency said, but records showed four of them had been ticketed between four and 13 times for illegal hawking of curry puffs at various locations, including MRT stations.

For continuing to flout the law, Madam Robiah was charged in court with operating a food establishment without a licence.

NEA stressed that it takes a tough stance against food operators who flout hygiene regulations, especially for those who run unlicensed operations which can be a serious threat to public health.

"Members of the public are advised not to buy food from illegal hawkers. In particular, illegally sold food items such as curry puffs may not have been prepared in accordance with proper hygiene procedures or undergone quality control checks," it said.

NEA added that any Singaporean who wishes to embark on hawking may rent a stall from NEA.

Local illegal hawkers in genuine financial difficulties are referred to social service agencies, voluntary welfare organisations and self-help groups.

They can approach the Workforce Development Agency Career Centres located islandwide for career and training advice and services to enhance their job search skills and employability. They can also register with Jobs Bank to search for jobs

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