HolyCrit organiser & volunteer facing a year in jail: Zul Awab interview

i was not alone in reacting with disbelief when i first read the news from Singapore that the organiser of the Holy Crit race, Eric Khoo, and volunteer Zul Awab were facing hefty fines and up to 6 months in prison after traffic police shut down their event due to a complaint from a local. Singapore is certainly an intriguing city but it is not one in which bike racing thrives, despite there being a substantial number of road, track, fixie and MTB riders.

each year the cycling federation struggles to put on a national road race and time trial championships, having to wrangle with the government to get a permit to close roads.

within this environment, the emergence of a crit series came as a ray of light in an otherwise dingy house. it injected a much required shot of adrenalin to the local scene and meant that people who wanted to race their fixies and single speeds finally had a place to do it.

until, that is, Zul Awab got a phone call from the local traffic police asking him and Khoo to go to the station to ‘help them with their inquiries’. that visit resulted in a criminal charge and a potential jail term. which is slightly ironic, as the Holy Crit was started in the hope of keeping young kids out of trouble.

“The idea behind this whole thing to keep these kids off the streets,” explains Awab. “In Singapore we have gangs, drugs, kids getting drunk at an early age, so we are trying to educate these kids about fixed gear and to get them into this sport. They don’t know about how to ride, about safety, helmets, all that. That was the aim.”

the ide behind the Holy Crit is to give something back to the cycling community and to help deepen the existing culture there. Khoo runs a bicycle store but was frustrated by the lack of spaces available for the people buying his bikes to test their machines.

“The first event was on September 1st last year. Nobody gains a single penny out of this, nothing. Some of the kids are at school. So there’s an entry for of $8US which goes to the winner, every penny.”

Zul Awab, left, and Eric Khoo

Zul Awab, left, and Eric Khoo

but was the event safe? or was it at a time or in a place where pedestrians and other road users were in danger in any way?

“No. It wasn’t at all. It was at 11:30 at night, there were no cars or mopeds. It was in a secluded area, the only cars there were parked.”

on the day when the got the call from the police, Khoo and Awab willfully presented themselves to the police, Awab says.

“Me and Eric went down there to help them and we were interrogated for about eight hours. I was handcuffed and my leg was cuffed too. My mobile phone was confiscated, they took  my home computer, saying this was all standard operating procedure. My lap top was confiscated also. And we were just trying to serve our local cycling community.”

now he and Khoo are facing a 6 month sentence.

“We hope of course that won’t happen. The law they are trying to get us on only related to motorised vehicles. We hope, with the prayers and support of cyclists around the world, that it will just be a warning and a slap on the wrist. This whole thing wasn’t about trying to be glamorous or famous, it was just about giving something back.”

i asked him if he had any regrets, his answer was heartening.

“No, not at all. We want this to legalise this, keep it going and we want to keep the race the same.”

i wish them all the best for a suitable outcome to their predicament, and that this event reaches their ambition.

stay tuned here on crankpunk for updates.

if you’d like to leave messages of support for Eric and Zul, I suggest you do that here where they can see it, or alternatively seek them out on FB.

29 comments

    • crankpunk

      yeah for now i’d say messages of support posted here. if the charges aren’t dropped then perhaps we can think about a fund. cheers for the concern, they will read it.

  1. bear

    Wat does the govt want? They dun even disturb anyone oe anything. Its jus for the sake of havin fun n making new frens n keeping a healthy lifeatyle. If really they will be charge then this is all jus a matter of brainless people jus following shallow orders.

  2. Rick Pepper

    That is a damned shame. I hope there is a general protest in Singapore and these lads are allowed to run their midnight crits every night on a closed course. I would love to fly out to race in it, provide support, offer up some prizes.

  3. TMB

    Reblogged this on Helter Skelter and commented:
    This is aush bullshit… I know these guys have bumped into them several times outside their store as I frequent Blackbook studio. With no ill intentions in mind these guys were out to only do good however , just for the lack of lisensing they are facing a year in jail.. what utter bullshit

  4. jaeson

    Thanks for doing what u did. Some of the most influential people went to jail and came back stronger. So will u and yr cause!! God bless guys!

  5. Amir Mastan

    This really sucks. If the they’re making money out of the race they organize is one thing. If they conduct a race in the middle of orchard rd maybe the authority can punish them. Common they organize it near midnight, can’t the police just hand them a warning or make them do some community work? If there’s anything that I could be of help with I will want to help this guys. Lemme know.

  6. Hamidi

    i really disagree with the traffic police 100 percent. Both this guys are really doing a gd things.They are trying to get the youngster to romped in for cycling.
    With the rising in Street gang , I don’t think it’s wrong for them to educate youngster nowadays on how to cycling with proper gear. It’s far more better than joining street gangs.even tho I don’t cycled,I totally support their attention. I hope the TRAFFIC POLICE can be lenient and let them go. I don’t see them as nuisance but instead I think they are trying TO help the younger community. Do take in their deeds as consideration

  7. john

    Our govt do not give a damn on our welfare and social issue. Since they cannot profit from this event, why do they support? Wake up! Time to change govt!

  8. ian

    heard and read.. here in manila PH

    you guys will never be alone..

    we support your cause..

    humanity needs bikes more than..

  9. Hube

    This is how the police cannot differentiate between what kind of activity deserves punishment and what doesn’t. They have lost touch with the people and just use their so called law to do whatever they deemed fit. Even this activity if it is wrong does it deserved a jai term? Of course not…Wake up police and wake up Govt.. You’re hurting your own people .. And pampering to foreigners … Sick…

  10. chiasihan83

    This event should continue as it has good objectives to promote healthy lifestyle within the community. Maybe having a corporate sponsor to front it will resolve this issue? If licensing is the only issue the Organisers should be advised accordingly on how to apply or be given a warning, and not be treated like criminals :/

  11. Pingback: [Investigative Journalism] Is the presence of non-mainstream media really that important in Singapore? A case study of HolyCrit Saga | offbeatpolitics
  12. Alfian

    What a load of crap …. Here you are trying to do good. Keep the kids out of trouble, doing something to help the kids and public by keeping healthy… And they are trying to stop them. Ridiculous.

  13. Jonny

    Wtf sial the gov take all our fun away no motocross place to trail no more good place to fishing now cycling is a crime just becoz they organize with out a primit alamak come on laaa this guys know what safe or not if not do u think they will organize this race and it almost 12mn and not 9 to 5 and u have to do road close haizzzzzz wake up gov,hmmmmm i was thinking can we all come to the court to show support for this guys … ???

  14. travellingbulat

    Never bend your head. Always hold it up high. And look thr government straight in the eye.
    I believe that you have all the Singapore bikers support to get thru this!

  15. Mohd Remi

    Zul Awab was an active footballer who loves sports and adventure. He played and once captained our team MRFC (Marina Rangers Football Club). We knew him as someone who would always encourage others to be active in whatever sports we are in… We are hopeful that He and the other guy Khoo will not be charge for their good intentions. MRFC will always support you Bro Zul…

  16. Kasa Rubia

    I find this rediculous. Especially when they were told at first to help with some inquiry by the authority and then to be handcuffed and interrogated for 8 hours?! What does the authority don’t understand and probing for? The premise and context these innocent guys are working on is rather simple and clear.
    What is becoming of the law in Singapore?! I am flabbergasted!!

  17. Rezza Khan

    Respekt. You may lose some money, lose some months of freedom but you have gained my following. Hope to hook up with you guys to organise an event in the future. We’ll do it in JB perhaps and bring sponsors there too.

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