Malaysia not a wildlife smuggling hub

New Straits Times 12 Aug 17;

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia should not be referred to as a hub for wildlife smuggling.

Customs Director-General Datuk Seri T. Subromaniam said this to set the record straight, in reference to two seizures of pangolin scales last month.

“I need to correct the misconception. There are countries that have these cases but do not report or take action on them,” he said while alluding to neighbouring countries.

“But what is better, take action and report (the seizure) and have you all say we are a transit point, or allow these smugglers to get through while another party becomes the news highlight,” he said here at the pre-launch of a charity ride the department plans to hold in January.

He said that the statistics had to be interpreted carefully and more busts meant there was a proper system in place to nab criminals.

“We can't, for instance say that Malaysia is a corrupt country just because the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission handles a lot of cases,” he added.

Subromaniam also said that the department scored large busts as a result of partnerships with international intelligence networks and public tip-offs.

Malaysia has long been labelled as a key transit point in global wildlife smuggling and trafficking by environmental groups.

On Friday the Sabah Customs Department announced that it busted an attempt to smuggle out about 8,000 kg of pangolin scales worth over RM103 million to China via the Sepanggar Port in Kota Kinabalu on July 29.

The scales, packed in 226 gunny sacks were discovered inside two containers, waiting to be shipped out.

Last week the KLIA Customs Department also announced that it seized 300.9kg of smuggled pangolin scales worth RM3.86 million from the Democratic Republic of Congo on July 30.

Customs assistant director-general (enforcement) Datuk Mohd Pudzi Man said the smuggled items were confiscated from the free trade zone at the air cargo warehouse in KLIA.

The scales were smuggled in seven bags and labelled as “fish maw”. They were flown in via Ethiopian Airlines from Congo, and KLIA is believed to have been its final destination.