Singaporean woman on trial for spraying insecticide at neighbour's pet bird

Video footage from passerby shows her using a fan to blow the mist towards to birds above her unit

Video footage taken by witness shows an arm spraying insecticide towards caged birds from a third-floor flat, with a fan blowing the mist upwards.
Video footage taken by witness shows an arm spraying insecticide towards caged birds from a third-floor flat, with a fan blowing the mist upwards. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Dharmasari Haroun)

SINGAPORE — A woman was on trial on Thursday (26 January) for spraying insecticide on a caged bird, with a fan blowing the mist upwards from her flat window, triggering coughing and breathing issues in the animal.

CNA reported that Chee Huiru, a 40-year-old Singaporean, was representing herself and contesting a single charge under the Animals and Birds Act of causing unnecessary pain and suffering to a Jambul bird.

How the alleged incident occurred

On 11 November 2021, a passerby was walking past Block 133, Edgedale Plains en route to his son's home when he saw a hand sticking out of a flat on the third floor spraying on something above.

The passerby also spotted a fan flat on the ledge, blowing the spray mist upwards.

He captured a video of the scene after seeing three birds hanging in cages on the floor one level above the fan, concluding that the birds were the intended targets as the spray was aimed precisely at them.

The passerby also decided to inform the owner of the birds, Siti Kamariah Mahli, during the evening of 11 November, according to CNA. He asked the shocked owner to check if the birds were alive.

NParks' help was sought

Siti submitted an animal feedback report under the National Parks Board (NParks) to report the case of animal cruelty. On 25 November 2021, an NParks officer collected statements and photographs of the birds.

Siti said that only one of the birds seemed to have respiratory problems. Instead of thinking it was the result of "long-term foul play", she had assumed this bird had been ill for most of its life.

After the case was reported to NParks, Siti's husband was advised to take the bird to the vet, and he did so in December 2021.

According to CNA, a report by the vet indicated that the Jambul was quiet but responsive, and had open-mouth breathing.

The vet added that it was highly likely that the Jambul had developed respiratory issues after inhaling the aerosol.

Despite Siti's husband administering the bird's medication regularly, the bird died six months later at an estimated age of four to six years.

CNA reported Siti's husband, a self-professed bird lover, claiming that a Jambul can live up to 20 years.

Rocky relationship with Chee and her husband

Siti has lived with her husband and three young sons in the Edgedale Plains flat since 2004, without receiving any complaints from neighbours except the accused, according to CNA.

One incident had Chee's husband complaining about loud banging and thudding at night between 11 pm and 3am. Siti's husband denied the accusations, saying his family was not to blame.

Siti had even invited Chee's husband into her flat to confirm that the loud noise he heard was from the upper units, and not hers.

After this, Chee complained that there were noises of chairs dragging and marbles dropping.

CNA reported that Siti said that she and her husband received visits from Housing Board officers and that the town council received multiple noise complaints about her flat that she believes were made by Chee.

Chee faces up to 18 months in jail and/or a fine of $15,000, if convicted of causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal.

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