GEORGE TOWN, Jan 18 — The Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry has directed the Malaysian Quarantine and Inspection Services Department (Maqis) to conduct stringent checks at all entry points nationwide, especially during the Chinese New Year festive season to ensure that pork and pork products are free of the African Swine Fever (ASF) virus.
Deputy Minister Sim Tze Tzin said close monitoring was necessary, even though Malaysia remains free from ASF, to ensure food safety and the ASF virus does not harm the country's livestock and crop industries, affecting the economy and the well-being of the people.
Maqis is also working with other agencies such as the Customs Department, the General Operations Force and the Malaysian Border Control Agency (Aksem) at the entrance to the country to prevent the spread of the ASF virus, he told reporters after reviewing the inspection process at the Penang International Airport arrival hall in Bayan Lepas, today.
To date, the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry has issued a ban on the import of pork and pork-based products from 10 countries namely China, Laos, Poland, Belgium, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Myanmar, South Korea, the Philippines and Indonesia.
Sim said the ministry has taken steps to hold awareness campaigns on the dangers of ASF since 2018 because if not prevented it could affect the country's pig industry worth about RM5 billion.
“Some Asian countries such as China, Vietnam, Cambodia and most recently in Indonesia pigs have contracted the disease and affected the industry in these countries, resulting in huge losses,” he said.
According to him last year, 2,497.91 kilogrammes (kg) of pork and 3,232.58 kg of pork products were seized at the air, land and sea entrances, and the confiscated items were either burned or buried in accordance with the standard operating procedures (SOP).
Meanwhile, Sim also reminded tourists or locals travelling overseas in conjunction with the Chinese New Year festival not to bring in or return to Malaysia with pork and pork products because of the concern over the ASF virus.
He said importing goods without a valid permit was an offence under Section 11 (1) of the Quarantine and Inspection Services Act 2011 (Act 728), punishable under Section 11 (3) of the same act which carries a maximum fine of RM100,000 or imprisonment not exceeding six years or both.
He said throughout last year Maqis had taken action under Act 728 involving 1,002 arrests and prosecution of 18 cases with fines amounting to RM201,500 while the compounds came up to RM4.030 million and the seizures amounted to RM116.6 million. — Bernama