SINGAPORE, Dec 19 — Get a “more harmless hobby” than keeping scorpions.
That was the advice a district judge offered Yeo Beng Heng yesterday, before fining him S$2,800 (RM8,550) for trying to sneak 10 ‘live’ Asian forest scorpions into Singapore from Malaysia.
The 64-year-old Singaporean had pleaded guilty to four counts of attempting to illegally import a wild animal, with another six such charges taken into consideration for sentencing.
Before sentencing, District Judge Shaifuddin Saruwan questioned Yeo about why he had committed the offence.
“Is there a market for it here or just a fetish?” the judge asked. Yeo replied through an interpreter: “It’s just my own hobby.”
The judge then told him: “Perhaps you should get a more harmless hobby than this. There are many, many other animals not prohibited under any of the Acts that you can bring in. Don’t repeat this, do you understand?”
The court heard that Yeo bought the black scorpions from a shop in Johor Baru on March 26 this year.
Able to reach an average of 10 to 12cm in length, they are known to be mildly venomous but non-lethal to humans. Their stings can cause pain and numbness for a few hours, National Parks Board (NParks) prosecutor Ron Goh told the court.
Yeo packed them in an empty tissue box and placed it on the dashboard of a Toyota Wish. He did not tell the driver about it, and both men went through immigration at Woodlands Checkpoint without declaring the creatures.
Immigration and Checkpoints Authority officers found the scorpions after stopping the car for an inspection and thoroughly searching it.
An NParks officer inspected the scorpions and found that they appeared weak. Portions of some of their legs and tails were falling off as well.
In mitigation, Yeo pleaded for a light fine and said it was his first offence. He could have been fined up to S$1,000 for each scorpion he tried to smuggle. — TODAY