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File photo of a fighting fish, also known as betta.

(Updated: )

SINGAPORE: When National Parks Board (NParks) officers received a tip-off that someone was selling fighting fish via Telegram and knocked on Muhammad Irfan Khairudin’s door, they found two bearded dragons being kept illegally in his Ang Mo Kio flat.

Irfan, 28, was fined S$3,000 in court on Wednesday (Mar 17) for one count of using his home as a pet shop to sell 10 fighting fish, also known as betta, and two counts of intentionally keeping wildlife without approval.

The court heard that Irfan started an account on Telegram called “Ayam Betta” at the start of 2019. He posted his fighting fish for sale and sold his first fish for S$20 soon after.

Since then, he sold 10 fish from his home via Telegram even though he did not have a pet shop licence.

In April 2020, NParks received feedback that someone was selling fighting fish via Telegram. They visited Irfan’s home in Ang Mo Kio in July 2020 and found two live Central Bearded Dragons kept in separate tanks in the flat.

Irfan did not have the required approval to keep them.

The prosecutor asked for a fine of S$3,000, noting that the charges for intentionally keeping wildlife were new offences.

Central Bearded Dragons, a type of lizard, are native to Australia and the ones seen in Singapore are usually from Johor Bahru and are smuggled across, said the prosecutor.

They are not native to Singapore and can pose threats if they accidentally escape. He added that the sale of pets is a regulated trade in Singapore and steps must be taken to ensure that they are not bred in unsanitary conditions.

Irfan had nothing to say in mitigation, but was allowed to pay S$1,000 upfront and the remainder by the end of next month.

For using his home as a pet shop to sell fish, he could have been fined up to S$5,000. For intentionally keeping wildlife, he could have been jailed up to six months, fined up to S$10,000, or both.

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