- The Straits Times
Singaporeans who hunger for Hong Kong’s roast meat, especially its famed roast goose, may soon have their fill of it without having to visit the territory.
The Singapore Government is considering easing the import rules on cooked meat products, said Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat in a Facebook post on Monday (Dec 3).
The rules are being reviewed by Singapore’s Pro-Enterprise Panel (PEP) and its Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), said Mr Chee, who is also Senior Minister of State for Education.
But the authorities need time “to ensure food safety and other health considerations are taken care of”, he told reporters on the sidelines of his working visit to Hong Kong.
More importantly, the review reflects the approach Singapore takes on its rules and regulations, he said.
“We work closely with our businesses and our stakeholders to get feedback.
“After getting the feedback, review our rules, starting from first principles, looking at a more risk-based approach and see what we can do to support innovation and trying out new ideas,” he added.
Mr Eugene Toh, director of the Pro-Enterprise Division in the Trade and Industry Ministry, said the review is part of broader efforts by the PEP and regulatory agencies “to ensure that our rules and regulations are agile and pro-business”.
The review includes getting feedback from stakeholders on how Singapore’s regulatory framework can be improved and kept relevant, Mr Toh said, adding that it was one such feedback that led to the examination of the rule on cooked meat products.
Rules that have been reviewed by the PEP and removed include the submission of audited statements by smaller companies with annual sales turnover of less than S$5 million, when they want to take part in the government procurement process, among other things.
On the import of poultry, including cooked or processed food containing poultry, AVA rules allow it only from 14 certified bird flu-free countries. They include Argentina, Canada and New Zealand but Hong Kong is not among them.
A traveller can bring into Singapore only up to 5kg of meat products from the approved sources.
Those who flout the rules may get a warning, a composition fine or be prosecuted in very extreme cases, which are usually criminal in nature.
Lawyer Sunil Sudheesan, 39, who says he travels often to Hong Kong to satisfy his roast meat cravings, believes a change in the import rules would be timely.
“Foodies will rejoice. Hong Kong goose is known by us who love roast meats,” he added.
Food connoisseur Kevin Tan, 44, said Hong Kong roast goose “is a rare luxury” for Singaporeans. “Restaurants in Singapore can’t import and cook geese from Southern China, which is the breed that is commonly used for roast goose,” he added.
Consultant Desmond Lee, 36, welcomes the move but said he “actually appreciates AVA’s strict control on food safety”.
The reason only countries, establishments and farms accredited by AVA can export meat and meat products to Singapore is that the products could carry animal and food-borne diseases.
Also, imported food from accredited sources are subject to specified requirements and routine surveillance, inspection and sampling programme.
During his trip, Mr Chee also met Singaporeans living or working in Hong Kong in a closed-door session where he answered their question and discussed their concerns.