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At first glance, Bakes By NY looks like any other Muslim-owned bakery chain, albeit one specialising in Italian-style stuffed doughnuts in all sorts of flavours including ondeh ondeh, Milo dinosaur and strawberry creme. But how it got to its current three outlets and staff of 13 is a bittersweet, inspiring story. 

Like all good husbands, Muhammad Khairul Anwar, 35, wants to give his wife the life she deserves. One in which she can revel in the joys of their children and not worry about their family’s finances. That’s why in 2013, Khairul quit his full-time job to start a more lucrative business — although lucrative didn’t necessarily equate to legitimate.

Khairul’s enterprise involved buying cigarettes from Indonesia and smuggling them into Singapore through a freight forwarder. By hiding the cigarettes in bulky items like furniture, he circumvented the high import duties and sold them for up to 700 percent profits to retailers on the ground. The possibility of getting caught never really bothered him. “I guess the money blinded me to the dangers of getting caught,” he admits.

Two years later, the jig was up. Khairul was arrested late one evening at a refuse collection centre where he was dismantling and discarding the bed headboards that hid his shipment of cigarettes. “I still don’t know how they found out, but I guess they’d been following us for a while,” he says. He was sentenced to two years and eight months in jail.

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