Immigration & Checkpoints Authority

A Bad Concoction

Press release   •   Jun 22, 2011 15:01 +08

        Any wine connoisseur would tell you that one of the biggest influences on the flavour of wine is the container that stores the alcoholic beverage. A good concoction would have been stored in good quality oak so that the flavour of the surrounding wood infuses some of its woodiness into the liquid. However, not all alcoholic beverage producers seem to observe such strict quality control in their concoction. Officers from the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) at Woodlands Checkpoint had seen for themselves how a bad concoction was “delivered” into Singapore.

2      On 16 June 2011, at about 9pm, a silver Malaysia-registered sedan pulled into the Woodlands Checkpoint for arrival clearance. The lone Malaysian driver, Phang, was directed to the inspection zone for security checks. While conducting the check, an astute ICA officer spotted some anomalies on the floorboard of the vehicle. He alerted his teammates and they immediately conducted a thorough search of the vehicle.

3      While checking on the fuel tank of the vehicle, the ICA officers encountered much difficulty as they tried to loosen the bolts which had been pneumatically fastened onto the fuel tank. Upon unfastening the bolts, they caught a whiff of something intoxicating instead of the usual smell of petrol. Painstakingly, the officers removed the modified fuel tank and drained off 53 litres of duty-unpaid “intoxicating liquor” from the container. The potential customs duty and GST involved in the duty-unpaid liquor amounted to about $1,480 and $250 respectively.
4      Phang was immediately placed under arrest and the vehicle seized. When questioned, the 24 year-old claimed that he was engaged by a Malaysian Chinese by the name of 'Lim' to convey the liquor to Singapore. He had driven the car from Taman Perling, Johor Bahru and was to leave the vehicle at Sembawang after immigration clearance. Thereafter, another person will take over the vehicle and he will be paid RM280 upon successful delivery. Little did he know that he would be arrested for “drink driving” without being intoxicated!
5      The case was referred to the Singapore Customs for further investigations. Phang was charged in Court on 20 June 2011 and sentenced to a fine of $21,000 or in default 5 weeks’ imprisonment after he pleaded guilty to the importation of duty-unpaid liquor. Singapore Customs warns that buying, selling, conveying, delivering, storing, keeping, having in possession or dealing with duty-unpaid liquor are serious offences under the Customs Act & the GST Act. First time offenders can be fined up to 20 times the amount of duty and GST evaded. Repeat offenders can be jailed for up to two years in addition to the fines. The vehicle used in conveying the contraband will also be liable for forfeiture.

6      Our borders are our first line of defence in safeguarding Singapore's security. The enhanced security checks are critical to our nation’s security. We have tightened our security checks on passengers and vehicles at the checkpoints to prevent attempts to smuggle in undesirable persons, drugs, weapons, explosives and other contrabands. The same methods of concealment used by contraband smugglers may be used by terrorists to smuggle arms and explosives to carry out attacks in Singapore.