First a rape case, now a zoo at family's home

SINGAPORE - Barely a year after his younger brother was acquitted of rape, Ong Ming Siang was yesterday fined $41,000 for keeping 32 wild animals in his flat illegally.

Among his prized and, for some, endangered possessions were: Three rare ball pythons, two Indian star tortoises, a slow loris - which is a poisonous primate - three black-tailed prairie dogs, two sailfin dragons and five ornate horned frogs.

The court heard that there was no evidence linking him to any wildlife-smuggling syndicate, but there was evidence to show that the animals were for sale.

The animals are now in the care of the Singapore Zoo.

Pleading for leniency, defence counsel Alywin Goh said a heavy fine would cripple Ong financially as his client has to support a Thai wife and two sons, aged one and two.

The 33-year-old had kept the animals in his Housing Board flat in Toa Payoh North. In 2009, his younger brother, Mr Ong Mingwee, former poster boy for fashion brand Crocodile, was accused of raping a woman in a flat in the same area.

Mr Ong Mingwee told evening daily Lianhe Wanbao yesterday that "disaster was striking his family over and over".

But despite that, he said, his family is still "together as one".

When MyPaper visited the Toa Payoh minimart that the family has run for 40 years, another brother declined to comment.

Mr Ong Mingwee, then 28, went on trial in 2011 for allegedly raping a 22-year-old woman he met at Zouk.

He was first convicted and sentenced to seven years in jail, and eight strokes of the cane.

His case was overturned upon appeal.

His father, Mr Ong Liang Eng, had previously told the media that he had borrowed $50,000 from his friend, in order to pay legal fees that amounted to more than $100,000 for the eight-day trial and appeal.

At the time, he said he would need many years to repay the money.

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