She's out of the doghouse

US actress Amber Heard pleads guilty, films apology and avoids jail time for illegally bringing dogs into Australia

SMUGGLE: (From left) The "war on terrier" started when US actress Amber Heard was discovered to have brought two dogs to Australia without declaring them. She was visiting husband, US actor Johnny Depp, who was filming the latest Pirates Of The Caribbean movie.

US actor Johnny Depp and his wife, actress Amber Heard, released a video apology yesterday for flouting quarantine laws by bringing two dogs into Australia on their private jet, in an awkward finale to a case dubbed the "war on terrier".

The case made headlines in May last year after Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce threatened to have the dogs, Pistol and Boo, put down unless they "buggered off back to the United States".

The apology was played in court as Heard, 29, escaped conviction after pleading guilty to falsifying immigration forms when she brought the dogs into Australia, where Depp, 52, was filming "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales".

In the video, the couple stressed the importance of obeying the nation's strict biosecurity laws.

"Australia is a wonderful island with a treasure trove of unique plants, animals and people," said Heard.

"It has to be protected," Depp said.

"Australia is free of many pests and diseases that are commonplace around the world. That is why Australia has to have such strong biosecurity laws," Heard said.

"And Australians are just as unique, both warm and direct. When you disrespect Australian law they will tell you firmly," Depp said in an apparent reference to the minister's threat.

AWKWARD

Heard expressed her "remorse" over the case, in one of many awkward moments which raised giggles on social media, where the video was compared with a hostage plea or North Korean-style propaganda.

"I am truly sorry that Pistol and Boo were not declared," she said.

Two more serious charges against Heard of illegally importing the Yorkshire terriers were dropped yesterday by the court in Queensland. But she admitted a third charge of providing a false document by failing to declare the animals on her arrival card.

She was placed on a AU$1,000 (S$1,050) one-month good behaviour bond.

Heard blamed Depp's staff for the mix-up, saying they were supposed to take care of all the paperwork.

"It was a terrible, terrible mistake," defence lawyer Jeremy Kirk said."There was no attempt to deceive."

Mr Joyce, who is also deputy prime minister, told reporters the couple had communicated with the Department of Agriculture about filming the apology.

"I don't think it'd be something they would've willingly wanted to do," he said.

The video quickly went viral.

"Can we talk about how Johnny Depp and Amber Heard look like they're being held hostage by the Australian government?" LewisAbbey tweeted.

A black limousine had dropped the couple off at the Southport Magistrates' Court where minders escorted them through a media scrum as supporters shouted "Go Johnny" and "We love you".

The dogs' presence in Australia only came to light when they were photographed at a grooming salon over three weeks after they arrived. They were quickly whisked out of the country as the story made news.

Depp had made fun of the incident, saying the dogs had been killed and eaten "under direct orders from some kind of sweaty, big-gutted man from Australia".

Under strict biosecurity laws, dogs entering Australia from the US must be declared and spend 10 days in quarantine. Penalties range up to 10 years in prison.

Agriculture authorities issued a statement saying Heard made "a false declaration on her Incoming Passenger Card, saying she was not travelling with any live animals when she did have two dogs in her luggage".

"The consequences of a disease outbreak could have been terrifying. We can't take the risk," Mr Joyce said. - AFP.


Can we talk about how Johnny Depp and Amber Heard look like they're being held hostage by the Australian government?

- LewisAbbey, a Twitter user, on 
Depp and Heard's video apology

Voice of thunder, heart of gold

FAMOUS: Everyone at Jurong West knows vegetable seller Beh Poh Gek (in red shirt) for her friendliness and loud voice.
SATISFIED: Mrs Lau Ah Mok, 72, has been buying vegetables from Madam Beh for over 20 years.

She's a most unlikely Internet star, but a video featuring Madam Beh Poh Gek has been viewed more than 242,000 times on Facebook.

Posted by Facebook user Sujimy Mohamad, Madam Beh, 48, rattles off in Malay and Tamil to the amusement and appreciation of her customers.

Just who is this woman?

When we visited her last Tuesday, her booming voice could be heard two blocks away.

Madam Beh is a Jurong West institution and has been calling on customers to "Pilih! Pilih!" (Malay for select) just about every morning for the last 25 years.

The shop she works at, JuWest Green Grocery and Florist, is located at Block 497 Jurong West Street 41.

Madam Beh speaks English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil.

Mr Munisamy Ramachandran, 64, an oil refinery worker, said: "I always tell her she should work as an army commander instead."

He has been buying from her for 12 years.

He said: "Everyone in the neighbourhood knows her as she is friendly and speaks so many languages."

On April 7, Madam Beh was featured in a heartwarming Facebook video that went viral.

As of yesterday, the video had scored more than 4,000 likes and 3,800 shares.

In the video, Madam Beh is seen chatting cheerfully with many customers in Malay and Tamil.

One of them is Mr Sujimy Mohamad's mother, who mentioned that Madam Beh often gives her extra vegetables.

Facebook user Koh Wei Zane commented: "Everyone in the video feels so sincere. All those smiles are so raw and genuine."

Another Facebook user, Maznunnisha Aziz, commented: "Truly inspiring coverage of how gracious our society is and how a little kindness and humbleness goes a long way."

Madam Beh said she was delighted at the flood of positive comments left by Singaporeans.

She added that she was surprised so many of her customers had caught the video.

INTERNET FAMOUS

Speaking in fluent Mandarin, Madam Beh said: "They will come up to me and ask if I have seen it.

"Some joke that I am Internet famous now."

Madam Beh said that growing up in Malaysia, she learnt Malay in school and picked up Tamil from television shows.

A permanent resident, Madam Beh has lived here for over 30 years.

The single mother of a son, 16, and daughter, 18, says she enjoys interacting with her customers.

"The elderly aunties and uncles will ask for me even when I am on break. It is heartening to know that so many people like to buy vegetables from me," she said.

Mrs Lau Ah Mok, 72, has been Madam Beh's customer for over 20 years and the pair often chat in Hokkien.

Mrs Lau said: "I will always look for her when I am here as she is very cheerful and nice.

"She is an honest seller who never shortchanges anyone."

Housewife Faz Rina, 40, said she also likes Madam Beh's service: "Her voice can wake up the entire estate every morning.

"But she is very friendly and fast at packing vegetables."

And what is Madam Beh's formula for success?

"We are all humans. We should be as nice as we can to everyone we meet," she said.

Veteran hawker turns Internet star

A vegetable seller who speaks four languages and a veteran hawker who has been frying char kway teow for 35 years are two regular people in the limelight after being featured in videos that went viral...

DEDICATED: Mr Ng Chin Chye (above) has been cooking char kway teow for 35 years at his stall, Outram Park Fried Kway Teow, which is now at Hong Lim Market & Food Centre.
DEDICATED: Mr Ng Chin Chye has been cooking char kway teow for 35 years at his stall, Outram Park Fried Kway Teow (above), which is now at Hong Lim Market & Food Centre.

After 35 years of frying char kway teow, he still eats it every morning.

Mr Ng Chin Chye, 63, chuckled and told The New Paper: "To be able to cook char kway teow well, you must love eating it."

And cook it well he has.

Two weeks ago, Mr Ng was featured in a video on Tiger Beer's Facebook page.

The campaign, titled #UNCAGESTREETFOOD sheds light on several hawkers and focuses on disappearing Singaporean street food.

As of yesterday, the video has more than 455,000 views and 1,800 shares.

On the filming of the video, he chuckled: "It was my first time seeing so many lights and cameras.

People in the hawker centre were staring at me."

His stall, Outram Park Fried Kway Teow, has been drawing a steady stream of customers since it moved to Hong Lim Market & Food Centre in 2000, when Mr Ng took over his father's business.

He blushed: "Some of his old customers tell me that my food tastes just as good as my father's."

Mr Ng's father started his business at Tanjong Pagar in 1953, later moving to Outram Park in 1972, before its present location.

"It makes me happy to think I am continuing his legacy well," said Mr Ng in Mandarin.

He has become an unwitting social media star after the video exploded online, as people have been going to his stall just to catch a glimpse of him.

"But I do not have time to talk. The queues are just too long for me to break away," he said with a smile.

He does not have a Facebook or Instagram account, so his younger son showed him the video.

In the video, he is shown cutting fish cake and stirring chilli at 3am.

The queues start as early as 5am, when he serves taxi drivers, and goes on till 4pm, when he closes.

DELICIOUS

For $3, you get a plate of his much loved lardy goodness.

Mrs Amy Ong, 32, an office administrator, said: "His noodles have a certain 'wok taste'. Plus, he uses a lot of eggs and garlic, which give it a delicious fragrance."

In a day, he fries 72kg worth of noodles. But the tireless man is happy with his life and waking up at 2am every day.

"It has become a habit for me to wake up so early in the morning with my wife," he said.

Mr Ng's wife helps out at the stall every day.

But 20 years down the road, you might not get to eat his well-loved dish.

Mr Ng explained that his two sons, aged 30 and 32, are not interested in taking over the stall.

His younger son works at a bakery, and his older son studied in Nanyang Technological University and is working in the security industry.

He told The New Paper: "It would be such a pity if no one takes over my stall as the recipe was passed down from my father.

"He never taught me how to fry char kway teow. I simply learnt by watching him fry it every day."

Mr Ng added that he will not force his sons into taking over the business.

He said: "But I would be happy if they could as so many people already know of our stall. I want the business to be taken over by a family member."

Meanwhile, Mr Ng soldiers on, waking up at 2am every day from Mondays to Saturdays and going to bed at 7.30pm.

Mr Ng, who is diabetic, said: "I will keep frying char kway teow for as long as I can."

He said he hates to disappoint his regular customers, adding: "I will use every ounce of energy I have to keep cooking char kway teow."

He held up his right hand and chuckled: "Until this hand cannot fry noodles any more."

When TNP asked if he is tired of char kway teow, he said: "How can I get tired of eating char kway teow? I love it so much!"

How can I get tired of eating char kway teow? I love it so much!

- Mr Ng Chin Chye on whether he is tired of cooking the same dish every day

'Spurs players deserve statues if they win title'

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'Vardy dived'

Henry and Heskey review the controversial decisions in 
the Leicester-
West Ham clash

THRILLS AND SPILLS: 
Jamie Vardy (above, in blue) gets a second caution for diving, while Andy Carroll concedes a penalty for fouling Jeffrey Schlupp.
THRILLS AND SPILLS: 
Jamie Vardy gets a second caution for diving, while Andy Carroll (far left) concedes a penalty for fouling Jeffrey Schlupp.
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