Singapore

Man in BMW full of illegal curry puffs, kueh fails to stop at Tuas checkpoint

Man with 110 boxes and 20 bags of food arrested for failing to stop for further checks at Tuas Checkpoint

Despite being directed to another area for further checks, he continued driving his luxury car past Tuas Checkpoint, sparking a manhunt by the police.

They found the man and his 7-series BMW sedan almost two hours later at Pioneer North Road and arrested him.

The police officers found more 100 boxes and plastic bags packed in the boot and on the passenger seats.

But instead of contraband such as cigarettes or drugs, they contained foodstuff like curry puff and kueh (local pastries).

An Immigration & Checkpoints Authority spokesman said yesterday that a 47-year-old Singaporean had arrived at the Tuas Checkpoint from Malaysia at 12.15pm on Tuesday.

"The driver was accorded immigration clearance and proceeded to Customs Red Channel to declare the food products he had brought in from Malaysia. Checks were conducted on his vehicle and there were some discrepancies in the quantities declared," the spokesman added.

"He was directed to a designated inspection bay for further checks. However, the driver drove off instead."

Under the law, those who wish to bring in processed food such as traditional kueh from Malaysia need to apply for a permit with the Agri-food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore. (See report below.)

TALLY

The New Paper understands that the suspect had produced a valid import permit, but the quantity of food found in his car did not tally with that stated in the permit.

He is suspected to have driven off because he misunderstood the instructions for further checks, TNP has learnt.

It is believed he was directed to another area for the checks because the inspection bay was full, but he apparently misread the signal and drove off.

Not long after the police tracked down the BMW to Pioneer Road North just after 2pm, a 28-year-old man saw the car surrounded by three police vehicles near Nanyang Technological University.

He told Chinese evening daily Shin Min Daily News that the officers were seen carrying boxes of food from the car.

A police dog was seen sniffing at about 110 boxes of various shapes and sizes and about 20 bags containing food stacked by the side of the road. Curry puff, packets of nasi lemak and kueh lapis were seen among the stash of food.

It was only until three hours later that the boxes of food were loaded back into the car, Shin Min reported.

Investigations are ongoing.

Kueh distributors here told TNP that it is common to bring in the food items from Malaysia to sell because of the price difference.

"In Singapore, most places sell 50 pieces of kueh for $20. In Malaysia, they may sell the same quantity for RM15 (S$5.30) to RM18," said a local distributor who declined to be named.

He was surprised that a BMW was used to transport the food items as he had never heard of people using saloon cars for this purpose.

"Usually, people use vans because cars are too small to contain all the goods," he said.

RULES ON IMPORTING PROCESSED FOOD

Anyone intending to bring in traditional kueh or other processed food in large quantities from across the Causeway must apply for a trader's licence or register with the Agri-food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA).

Only companies registered with Acra - the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, which is the national regulator of business entities and public accountants - can apply for a licence, said the AVA website.

AVA has rules for each food category. Processed food such as kueh must be obtained from Malaysian manufacturers registered with the Malaysian Ministry of Health.

Importers must provide documentary proof of complying with the rules and submit a microbiological test report each month.

They must adhere to AVA regulations on food additives and ingredients, food labelling and advertisements. And they must apply for an import permit before bringing the food products into Singapore.

PAST SECURITY BREACHES

APRIL 21, 2014

A Malaysian technician tried to enter Singapore at Woodlands Checkpoint without presenting his passport. He told officers he did not have his passport and was directed to park at a designated area, but he sped off towards the exit instead.

The checkpoint was locked down and he was arrested when his car stopped before a ramp. He was jailed for six weeks.

APRIL 13, 2014

A Malaysian poultry seller tried to tailgate a car through a security barrier at Woodlands Checkpoint, prompting a lockdown of the arrival car zone. He was jailed for eight weeks.

MARCH 8, 2014

A Malaysian trader forced his way through the Woodlands Checkpoint while trying to evade Customs checks.

"Cat claw" barriers were deployed, but they failed to stop his car from leaving the checkpoint.

He later turned himself in and was jailed for 10 months and fined $1,400 for mischief and other offences.

JAN 17, 2014

A Malaysian teacher from Kedah drove her car illegally past the Woodlands Checkpoint. She was caught three days later after she drove into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' compound.

She was let off with a conditional warning not to commit similar offences after she was found to be suffering from schizophrenia.

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