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  Straits Times 30 Jun 06
Aunt lost $20,000 when nephew jumped bail for smuggling endangered birds
By Elena Chong

A judge yesterday forfeited half of the $40,000 that a woman had posted as bail for her nephew, who skipped a court date last month.

Coffee shop assistant Kuah Thian Fah pleaded with the court not to forfeit the whole sum. She had stood bail for her nephew, Kuah Kok Choon, in February after he was charged for smuggling endangered birds. He also had drug charges against him.

A warrant of arrest was issued against the 32-year-old bird farm owner and breeder when he failed to turn up in court for a pre-trial conference on May 11.

He is said to have imported 11 blue-eyed cockatoos and a black-capped lorry from Papua New Guinea at Changi Airport on Feb 13. He also allegedly refused to cooperate with Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officers and wantonly caused the birds unnecessary pain and suffering.

He tranquilized three of them before packing them in bags and throwing them onto a metal bench when they were seized. The three birds died that day.

Madam Kuah, who said she and her sister-in-law had not been able to find him, said the money came from her hard earned savings over the years. He passbook was shown to Dirstrict Judge Tan Puay Boon who queried her about another sum of $20,000. She explained that she had withdrawn it three months before to buy Australian dollars for her son's education there.

Yesterday, Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority prosecutor Hoi Min Fah asked for the surving birds to be forfeited.

The judge will decide on Monday.

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