No leniency for banned driver who smuggled cigs

SINGAPORE - A 36-year-old man who tried to smuggle 9kg of contraband cigarettes in his car's dashboard, despite being banned from driving, on Thursday failed to get a disqualification of six years halved.

Kelvin Ho Tiong Kiat had also been sentenced to eight weeks in jail and fined $49,000 in May after pleading guilty to smuggling the cigarettes, and driving despite being disqualified and without third-party insurance.

Dismissing Ho's appeal, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon lectured him for driving while banned, calling it a "serious offence".

"This is about as blatant and brash (an act) as one can find," he said, adding that Ho had made the "premeditated decision" to get behind the wheel, despite being barely five months into a two-year ban for a previous offence.

Worse, he had disregarded the ban while attempting another illegal act. There would also have been problems with costs if Ho had been involved in an accident. In July last year, Ho was stopped while driving into Singapore through the Woodlands Checkpoint. A check of the car's modified dashboard turned up 9kg of duty-unpaid cigarettes, packed into 34 cartons and 110 packets. Ho had been promised $200 for each successful trip from Johor Baru by a man he knew as "Ah Seng".

Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.

Purchase this article for republication.