May 4, 2008

Chee Soon Juan And Other Illegal Hawkers

It seems that Geylang is getting overrun by foreigners selling illegal cigarettes.
ST May 4, 2008
Cigarette peddlers show up in Geylang
Working in teams, they do their illegal trade in back alleys, side lanes
By Aw Cheng Wei

Peddlers from China and Vietnam are hawking bootleg cigarettes openly in the Geylang area, sometimes in broad daylight, and even stopping cars to sell their stash.

The cigarettes are smuggled in on board cargo ships which dock at Jurong Port, the peddlers claimed.

One seller, who said he was Vietnamese and spoke in halting English, said his shipborne supply comes from Indonesia. His teammate added in Mandarin: 'The ships come in daily and we pay on collection.'

Judging by the figures he gave, it is a lucrative business. The peddlers buy their contraband at about $2 for a pack of 20 sticks and resell them to street buyers. A 20-stick pack of Texas 5 costs $4.50 while a pack of Marlboro Red or Marlboro Menthol costs $5 or $6, half of what a duty-paid pack of Marlboro costs here.

The appearance of the Geylang peddlers comes on the heels of Indonesian peddlers who smuggled in bootleg cigarettes in small boats and sold them to passers-by in Woodlands, Yew Tee and Changi.

Police cracked down on these Indonesian smugglers in January.

Six of the seven peddlers The Sunday Times approached in Geylang last week were Vietnamese. The seventh was a Chinese Singaporean who looked no older than 18.

There are peddlers from China as well but The Sunday Times team did not manage to speak to them.
From this article, we learn that these Chinese, Vietnamese and Indonesian foreigners are getting their illegal cigarettes via cargo ships that dock at Jurong Port.

However, I am more interested to know how these foreigners got into Singapore in the first place. Who knows, Mas Selamat may well have gotten out of Singapore in the same way that these cigarette hawkers got in.

It's quite likely that at least some of these cigarette hawkers are illegal immigrants. If they had entered Singapore legally on a work permit, they'd have a job and probably wouldn't risk it by selling contraband cigarettes in broad daylight. They'd have to be at work anyway.

Interestingly, somebody else is in the news for alleged illegal hawking - Mr Chee Soon Juan. From the Today newspaper:
Tak boleh tahan, SDP says it again
Party cadres urge passersby to sign two petitions
Friday • May 2, 2008

WEARING red T-shirts with the Malay words "tak boleh tahan" — which means "cannot take it" — members of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) once again took to the streets, as they had done on May Day in previous years.

Last year, SDP chief Chee Soon Juan and his sister Chee Siok Chin walked around the island to raise awareness about poverty. This year, the pair, joined by other SDP members and supporters, descended on Toa Payoh Central and set up a booth at a walkway near Toa Payoh Community Library.

They then began to hand out leaflets containing accusations of greed and exploitation by the Government.

The SDP members, who were selling T-shirts, buttons and books at their booth, also urged passersby to sign two petitions.

The first, addressed to the Prime Minister, contained five demands relating to ministerial salaries, the entry of foreign workers, the release of Central Provident Fund savings and transparency in the financial dealings of Temasek Holdings and the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC).

The second, to Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng, urged him to resign over the escape of Jemaah Islamiyah detainee Mas Selamat Kastari from the Whitley Road Detention Centre — a suggestion that has been dismissed by the Prime Minister.

........ In response to media queries, the police said: "Police received a call from the Bishan-Toa Payoh Town Council reporting that Chee Soon Juan was distributing pamphlets, and had set up a table selling books and T-shirts at Toa Payoh Central. Police observation in response to the call confirmed it."

Chee did not stage an unlawful assembly or an illegal outdoor demonstration.

"He was however peddling his books and T-shirts without a hawker's permit."

As this may be a case of illegal hawking, the Police has referred the matter to the National Environment Agency."

Surely it's only in Singapore that such a bizarre thing could happen.

The National Environment Agency was formed in 2002 to focus on the implementation of environment policies. It serves three main functions - environmental protection; maintenance of public health; and the provision of weather information through meteorological services.

The NEA is also in charge of pest control in Singapore. The agency regularly sends its officers around Singapore to deal with pests such as mosquitoes, cockroaches and rats.

It seems that the police authorities want the NEA to take on an additional role - deal with Opposition politicians who cannot be prosecuted for unlawful assembly or illegal outdoor demonstrations.

Chee Soon Juan may soon be treated as a pest - literally. So much for his human rights.


Anonymous said...

The pap government is misusing state agencies to persecute Dr. Chee Soo Juan. This is evil and must be condemned by all decent Singaporeans.

ZhuKoLiang said...

i really enjoy ur blog, Mr Wang.

Alan Wong said...

I just wonder what our new Law Minister Shamugam has got to say if CSJ is ever charged in a court of law ?

Don't our enforcement officers ever have any thing better to do ? Just curious.

hash said...

I guess that NEA (or hawker's permit) is only relevant if CSJ and his comrades were selling food. Otherwise, the police simply shouldn't bother NEA.
The pest control thing is too much of a stretch.

Anonymous said...

Quote from Mr Wang:
"However, I am more interested to know how these foreigners got into Singapore in the first place. Who knows, Mas Selamat may well have gotten out of Singapore in the same way that these cigarette hawkers got in."

Ah Mr Wang, you have really hit the nail on the head. This pretty sums up why Mas still has not been caught yet. Another sharp observation of you on the state of affairs of WKS's Ministry, despite PM Lee still having 100% confidence in him. Maybe because he "take care" of Chee very well.
Wake up WKS! Shape up or ship out before a disaster (if the terrorists really want to) happen!

Onlooker said...

Wow no surprise that crime is rising.One must note that some not all are criminals in their homeland and come here to "get rich quick".
Smuggling(ciggy),whoring(geylang, joochiat) , gambling(same as whoring) and scamming(apple,sham marriages)
Hence the increase of crimes here.
Yes these FT actually provide job opportunities for people to join the police force.
Maybe that's why there are so many Police ads recently :p

fraupenguin said...


Anonymous said...

One day, it might take a little boy to point out the hilarity of the situation.

Till then, the show must go on.

Anonymous said...


Gary Teoh said...

NEA is busy catching mosquito, short handed, no time to catch Chee.Police also short handed catching mas selamat.So it is the right time to protest,anyway Chee should get a hawker licence, pasar malam type, to sell T shirts, books etc to spread the democracy message.

geriatric_eunuch said...

NEA? They're really missing a trick here. They should have reported Dr. Chee to the Dept. of Parks and Gardens for being a thorn in their side.

Or to the MOH for wilfully and maliciously being a pain in their ass.

The garmen is tired and losing the plot. It's time for new blood.

Anonymous said...

Those foreigners, whether illegal hawkers or not, are providing jobs for Singaporeans. That is what Ah Long and Suay Suay implied, and reinforced by Ah Seng.

If we sent them home, the economy of Singapore will collapse and the millionaire ministers will have no jobs but to become punters and bookies of the F1 Races and play poker at the casinos.

As for CSJ being referred to the NEA, I think the police also kena Tak Boleh Tahan liao, after the shameful publicity caused by the Mas Selamat's escape.

As for NEA, I think it should be helping the police to recapture Mas Selamat instead of taking action for an annual May Day event. NEA should know and give due respect to the significance of May Day and try not to be so petty, immature and clinical in dealing with social and political activisms, for the sake of national reconciliation.

Anonymous said...

This is the funniest Mr Wang's post ever.

Anonymous said...

the cockroach is grossss

put some nice pictures of happy bunnies and rainbows instead.

Anonymous said...

PAP thrives on the 'fear' campaign - vote us out then Singapore will go into a recession... don't give us a million dollar salary and we might corrupt... and of course cycling events and peddling t shirts is dangerous .... maybe it all boils down to kia see ideology.... this works in the past... my money is that it will continue to work in the future...

Anonymous said...

Good point Mr Wang! If contraband ciggie can come into singapore so easily, i am sure things like drugs, weapons can too.
So much for the 'wayang' being put up at the customs in Changi and the checkpoint.

chosun said...

They are very efficient in going after their political enemies but cannot keep a terrorist properly locked up.

joe said...

Well, it seems that our esteemed PM Lee is true to his words. He meant what he said during his lunch time speech at the previous GE.

He cannot handle too many tasks at one go as he either can deal with inflation or MSK, but not both.

He needs more time for "fixing opposition" and "buying voters". No wonder he can come out with this idea of using NEA to do his job for him. This kind of idea really needs more time than thinking about how to deal with food price increases.

Anonymous said...

Things are not always what they seem and i feel that Mr Wang has got a point there.
Singapore's security is not that good anyway.

Besides, i have seen the peddlers selling the contraband cigarettes right outside Ajunied Mrt station !

Anonymous said...

WKS and his inept ministries want to lie low after the colossal 'toilet break' blunder. So they are passing the buck to NEA to do PAP's dirty job. Does it make sense for an environmental agency to be involved? Of course not. Just another day in Uniquely Sillypore.

dennis said...

It's a well known fact that, in recent years, the PAP rather are more tolerant to foreign criminal syndicates and gangsters who are incline to be violent in their illegal activities than opposition parties who have all the while called for a nonviolent movement.

Don't believe? Other than Geylang take a walk around Joo Chiat too.

Anonymous said...

The problems brought about by the foreign workers, legal or illegal, will multiply as living standards deteriorate. The prophecy that foreign workers create jobs (out of illegal activities) seems to be becoming a reality for the police force, immigration department and the NEA at least. I believe in Karma.

fighting fit said...

I wonder if all the companies promoting credit cards, fitness and yoga plans, etc in Shenton Way have hawkers permit.

Anonymous said...

chee should just apply for the bloody permit! surely if all these credit card companys are allowed to set up loud booths on orchard road the govt will be hard pressed to reject his application for a permit on public order grounds.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Public order? NEA is not in charge of that. You're referring to a different kind of permit, which wouldn't save Chee from NEA.

Robert L said...

Dear Mr Wang

I had regularly been thoroughly critical of the actions taken by govt agencies in all this while, but this time, in the wake of inaction taken by the police, I must be consistent and applaud them for taking the line of inaction.

In giving their reply that it's the NEA's jurisdiction, I will read between the lines and conclude that Dr Chee did not break the laws under police jurisdiction. My thanks to the police for making this decision. They had often behaved like poodles, but on this occasion they have chosen not to do so. We have to be thankful for small miracles.

Note that the police did not deem that Dr Chee had offended under NEA's legislations, instead they had left it to NEA to decide... It is important that we bloggers do not jump to conclusions, for all too often, the media purposely portray events that make us reach the wrong conclusions.

Anonymous said...

i just read a very "interesting" article from ST.

one paragraph said "Another piece of hardware which debuted was an armoured personnel carrier which can transport up to 14 Special Operations Command officers into barricaded areas, including demonstrations and riots."

Looks like our gahmen will have no problem dealing with 100 CSJ anytime anywhere!

Onlooker said...

Some how the image of Beatrice chia and the famous scene/quote from the EPIC fail local soap opera "Master of the sea" haunts me still.
"I will Crushes them like cockroaches"
Except this time substitute the old lady with THE OLD MAN.

averral said...

I really had a good laugh at this lol!!!!

National Environment Agency = Pest Control = For Political Dissentents

Anonymous said...

Foreign talent contraband street ciggy peddlars cocking a snook at the sleeping ICA. Making a mockery of the effort by raising taxes to curb smoking amongst the citizenry.

Creating jobs for locals? Sure, fill our hospitals with lung cancer and other smoking induced diseases thereby creating employment for medical personnel.

Foreign talent street walkers by the planeloads getting bolder with half hearted and laughable attempts at stopping the vice. Endangering our senior citizens' and young people's lives with imported STD.

Creating jobs for locals? Sure, more staff needed for the "transit" hotels.

Give me the cockroaches anytime.

Anonymous said...

NEA = Pest Control = Preventing Opposition Bites. Hmmm, sounds reasonable.

Anonymous said...

"The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws"

'Atlas Shrugged' - Ayn Rand