Toa Payoh case: Acres seeks harsher penalty

AN ANIMAL welfare group in Singapore has called for harsher punishment for a man convicted of keeping illegal wildlife in his Toa Payoh North flat, to send a stronger message as a deterrent against such crimes.

In a 12-page document sent to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) yesterday, the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) urged the authorities to file an appeal against the sentence given to Ong Ming Shiang, 33.

Ong was fined $41,000 on Feb 6 for having 32 animals, some endangered, in his flat. It was the largest seizure of illegal wildlife from a home in Singapore in 11 years. Ong was convicted of contravening the Endangered Species (Import & Export) Act and the Wild Animals and Birds Act.

The fine was one of the highest imposed on an individual, but Acres argued that it was low in comparison to earlier cases and inadequate as a general deterrent.

It said an appeal would be in line with "global trends and public policy demand" for strict penalties, and would clarify the grounds for imposing penalties.

Acres chief executive Louis Ng said: "We must send out a strong message that Singapore is committed and serious in combating this illegal trade and ensure that individuals involved in this trade are not only caught but given effective deterrent sentences."

The maximum punishment for contravening the Endangered Species Act is a $500,000 fine and a two-year jail term, while those found guilty under the Wild Animals and Birds Act face a maximum fine of $1,000.

The AVA said it has received Acres' letter and "will be looking into the request".

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