Seized wood in Malaysia doesn’t belong to PEPs, claims Mission

THE Zambian High Commission in Malaysia has disputed claims in some sections of the media suggesting that the seized Zambian wood worth over USD$2 million by the Malaysian Customs department belongs to politically exposed persons (PEPs).

A few days ago, the Malaysian Customs authorities stopped a consignment of Guibourtia wood worth over RM9Mil destined for Vietnam and a search conducted on the shipping container at the Tanjung Pelepas port revealed that the illegal wood in question was from Zambia.

Customs Director at the Johor Bahru Customs, Datuk Mohammad Hamidan Maryani confirmed the seizure during a press conference in Malaysia, explaining that no arrests were made and that the case would be treated as a seizure.

Once this story went viral on social media, netizens linked the seized mukula logs to some ministers.

But in a statement issued by the Zambian Mission in Kualar Lumpur, the mission stated that the Malaysian Customs department did not at any point state that the seized consignment belonged to politically exposed persons and neither were any details regarding the identity of the exporter(s) provided.

“The Star (a Malaysian daily newspaper) on Wednesday, 4th March, 2020 carried an article titled ‘Illegal Zambian wood worth over RM9Mil Confiscated’. The article stated that the consignment of Guibourtia wood bound for Vietnam and worth over RM9 million, about USD $2 million, was siezed by the Malaysian Customs authorities when they conducted an inspection of the shipping container at Tunjung Pelepas port. The article further quotes the Johor Customs Director, Datuk Mohammad Hamidan Maryani as stating that ‘no arrests were made and that the case would be treated as a seizure’. Contrary to claims in some sections of social media, at no point did the Johor Customs Director or the Malaysian Customs Department state that the consignment belonged to politically exposed persons or indeed procide any details regarding the identity of the exporter (s) except to indicate that the consignment was from Zambia and destined for Vietnam,” the statement read.

The Zambian Mission in Malaysia further advised the media to avoid speculating and publishing unsubstantiated information from unofficial sources.

“The High Commission of Zambia in Malaysia wishes to advise that the matter be followed up by the relevant Zambian authorities with their Malaysian counterparts in accordance with provisions of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora as it relates to specimens deemed to have been exported in violation of the Convention. The Mission further wishes to urge the media to avoid speculating and publishing unsubstantiated information from unofficial sources,” read the statement.

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