Top Glove confident US Customs’ detention order on goods will be resolved within one month

A worker inspects newly made gloves at Top Glove factory in Klang March 3, 2020. — Reuters pic
A worker inspects newly made gloves at Top Glove factory in Klang March 3, 2020. — Reuters pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, July 16 — Malaysia’s Top Glove Corp Bhd has expressed confidence that it will be able to resolve a detention order issued by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on two subsidiary companies that manufacture disposable gloves. 

Its managing director Datuk Lee Kim Meow said following the engagement of a consultant that is familiar with such detention orders, they are expecting to resolve the matter within two weeks to a month. 

“We are currently engaging with a consultant who handled a similar ban faced by glove manufacturer WRP Asia Pacific Sdn Bhd. 

“So the consultant is familiar with the problem and will be able to advise accordingly on what we need to do to get out of the detention order,” Lee told reporters during a virtual press conference today. 

According to Lee, the consultant has narrowed down two possibilities which has landed Top Glove with the detention order. 

One is passport retention, which Lee said the glove manufacturing company has long resolved, while the other reason could be the reimbursement given to workers who previously paid recruitment agent fees to get a job at Top Glove. 

“We don’t keep passports. It is a no-no and we have stopped doing that. 

“We are also practising a zero recruitment fees policy and are working with our human resources department to reimburse the amount to workers who previously paid the fee as soon as possible,” said Lee. 

But as of now, Lee said the company is looking forward to engaging with CBP to understand its reason for issuing the detention order. 

“Until we speak to them, we don’t know what is in their mind. 

“They need to listen to our side as well, because right now, it seems as though they have only heard from one side — the activists,” said Lee. 

Lee also clarified that Top Glove’s scenario is different from what WRP Asia Pacific faced previously where their problem stemmed from non-payment of wages to workers. 

“In their case, that triggered the CBP because not paying workers’ salary is a no-no. 

“I believe our situation is akin to a case whereby non-governmental organisations and activists kept highlighting the matter and continued to target us. 

“Maybe they want to do well in this area and achieve what they have set out to do, and after a while it prompted the CBP to issue the detention order,” he said. 

According to Top Glove executive chairman Tan Sri Lim Wee Chai, the matter of recruitment agent fees was raised several years back by activists and Lim said this is currently being addressed. 

“But activists have their own agenda to bring up the case. (Maybe) to bring up their name or for whatever reason.  

“In fact, our name in their country (workers’ home countries) is very well known because we create jobs for them, they are very happy,” said Lim. 

Lim added that this is the only issue that may have triggered CBP to take this step of issuing a detention order, as all other issues have been resolved, including capping the hours that workers are allowed to work in a month which include no more seven-day week work days. 

“We have audits to show that we have A-ratings, but somehow there are some parties that still don’t believe the audits. 

“So the timing is good, to engage with a third-party consultant to rectify anything else outstanding to sort this out once and for all,” he said. 

When asked if two weeks is enough to resolve the matter, Lim said the consultant they engaged has audited them before. 

“The consultant has audited us before, so we have prior experience with this consultant and will be able to size up the situation quickly and look at the proposals we have in hand to present them to CBP. 

“(If) they want our commitment to pay the old recruitment fees, if we agree to pay, two weeks will be okay,” Lim added.

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