JOHOR BARU • The Malaysian authorities are investigating how a consignment of high-tech military radar equipment worth millions of ringgit left the Port of Tanjung Pelepas in Johor without requisite permits.
The equipment - en route from Australia to the Netherlands via Malaysia - was detained at the port last month for not having the necessary permits.
Earlier reports said the consignment was found to be missing after a recent audit check at the port, and a police report was lodged this month. However, the Customs Department has clarified that the equipment is not missing.
According to a statement issued yesterday by Director-General of Customs Subromaniam Tholasy, the consignment has reached its intended destination of Rotterdam, and an internal probe is being conducted into whether standard operating procedures were followed when it was released from the Johor port.
The statement did not say when the shipment reached Rotterdam.
Sources said Malaysian Customs officials detained the radar systems shortly after they arrived from Australia last month.
The items, all packed in one container, were supposed to be shipped to the Netherlands via Johor, but did not have the necessary permits, which led to their unexpected detention.
All military equipment being shipped out of, or in transit, at any Malaysian port requires a special permit from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti) under the Strategic Trade Act 2010. No such permit or other supporting documents were produced when requested by port and Customs officials, a source told The Star.
Sources said that removing the equipment by ground transport would not have been easy, because of strict checks at the port's entry and exit points.
Johor Menteri Besar Mohamed Khaled Nordin said yesterday that the state government wants the authorities to get to the bottom of the case as it would affect investors' trust in the state.
"The authorities need to provide answers about what happened and whether it was an inside job," he said to reporters during his Hari Raya open house at the Pasir Gudang Indoor Stadium .
Penalties for contravening the Strategic Trade Act are heavy, with fines reaching RM10 million (S$3.2 million), and those convicted could also face the death penalty, added sources.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK