Malaysia: States must beef up enforcement to stop sand smugglers

A. Ruban Malay Mail 31 Jul 18;

PUTRAJAYA, July 31 ― Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar told states implicated with illegal sand mining activities to step up enforcement.

The water, land and natural resources minister said the sand mining business is a lucrative one, but pointed out that only less than five companies in the country are legally in the business due to its expensive operational cost.

“I don’t have an exact figure of illegal sand mining operators, but enforcement falls under the jurisdiction of states and they should up enforcement checks to prevent unscrupulous groups of people from stealing our sand,” Dr Xavier told Malay Mail in an exclusive interview.

Under the Continental Shelf Act 1966, Dr Xavier noted that the federal government was in power over sand mining activities three nautical miles from the country’s shore line.

For such activities, he explained that Approved Permits (APs) to run the business were issued by the federal government.

Under the former Barisan Nasional administration, Dr Xavier said, 15 APs had been given out but pointed out that only five or fewer are active today.

When asked about illegal sand mining activities specifically happening in the shores of Johor for Singapore’s consumption, Dr Xavier stopped short at saying that he was aware about it and that the Cabinet had been informed of the matter.

UK’s The Guardian had recently reported that almost 133 million tonnes of sand had been allegedly smuggled into Singapore in 2008.

Separately, Dr Xavier said the country’s total exports of sand and gravel in 2016 increased significantly to 294,918 tonnes and was worth RM5.02 million, compared with 1,374 tonnes that was valued at RM1.2 million in the year before.

The main export destinations, he said, were to Singapore, India, China, Thailand, Germany and Australia.

“But if you say illegal activity, I was made to aware that most of these activities are for local consumption.

“And to tackle this, the states must step up enforcements as land is their prerogative,” he said.

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