By BERNAMA / Pic By AFIF ABD HALIM
The Royal Malaysian Customs Department is to announce the suspension of the licences of 20 forwarding agents nationwide next month.
Its director-general, Datuk Seri Subromaniam Tholasy (picture), said the suspension was in accordance with the Customs Demerit Point System introduced in April this year to curb smuggling through ports.
He said the agents involved in smuggling or caught frequently committing offences and had accumulated 40 penalty points risked having their licences suspended or even cancelled.
There were now nearly 3,000 agents in the country and the applications for new licences had been frozen since 2006, he said.
Subromaniam spoke at a press conference here today where he also disclosed successful attempts by his officers in foiling the smuggling in of alcoholic drinks including beers, cigarettes of various brands and firecrackers worth an estimated RM21.07 million in value and unpaid duty.
“These items, in eight containers, were seized from the Rajang Port Authority (RPA) wharf here in October. They were falsely classified as furniture and other items,” he said.
In a similar case, he said, his officers also seized three more containers in the Tanjung Manis Port in Sarikei in the last three months of this year.
“The seized items were beers, declared as machinery spare parts, and cigarettes and firecrackers, declared as furniture and furniture parts,” he said, adding that their combined value and duties were estimated at RM6.772 million.
Subromaniam said investigations were ongoing against the shipping and forwarding agents involved.
“Again, I would like to remind shipping or forwarding agents to really know the background of the importers and the businesses they were engaged in.
“Under the Demerit Point System, they cannot just claim ignorance. Many times, too, when our officers investigated such cases, the business address given was false,” he said.
“The new approach needs to be taken to protect the country’s security and to combat smuggling and evasion of duty. Imagine if explosive items were brought in and declared as something else,” he said.
Meanwhile, on the chicken wings smuggling case here in February this year, he said his officers involved in non-compliance with the department standard operating procedure had been dealt with.
He said three forwarding agents had been identified and the investigation was still ongoing to nab the actual importers.
In that particular case, 8.1 tonnes of chicken wings were seized from five containers at the RPA wharf.
They were buried at Teluk Engkalat near here, and nearby residents dug them up for consumption in a frenzy widely reported and criticised in the media. — Bernama