السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
KUALA LUMPUR: Early last March, the Centre for Policy Initiatives (CPI) posted on its website a damning article about “cronyism, corruption and rent-seeking at the highest level” in the pork import business.
The article, based on an interview with a commodity trader, alleged that the business had become a “semi-monopoly controlled by a business-political mafia and which involves the highest level of leadership” in the Agriculture Ministry.
The Malaysian Association of Pork Importers (MAOPI) subsequently denied the allegations, but pork importers have told FMT in recent interviews that they have indeed fallen victim to unfair trade practices, forcing some of them to switch to importing other frozen products in order to survive.
Before MAOPI was formed in the first quarter of 2011, the import of pork into the country was carried out according to the rules of free trade.
“There was no limitation and no preferential treatment given to any importer,” industry player Alan Thng told FMT.
Recently, a group of importers submitted a petition to the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) complaining of the government’s unfairness in giving 50% of the import quota to companies owned by a couple of MAOPI officials. They also mentioned other onerous rules that they had to comply with on pain of being blacklisted.
CPI has also claimed that it is in possession of copies of official letters from MAOPI that give “clear proof of monopolisation, power politics, cartelisation” and other violations of free trade in the pork import business.
According to sources, several MAOPI members and independent pork importers have lodged reports with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission. These apparently followed a meeting of importers with the then deputy agriculture minister, Chua Tee Yong, which failed to address the controversy.
According to an importer who attended the meeting, Chua subsequently washed his hands off the issue. “Importers repeatedly contacted him, but were told that the Agriculture Minister would handle the case.”
Last September, Chua publicly denied that there was a single party in control of pork imports. “There is no policy to allow any single entity to take control of all pork imports into the country.”
According to an importer, that denial flew in the face of information supplied to him by aggrieved importers who met up with him in early 2012.
Nevertheless, some importers have told FMT they are optimistic that the new Agriculture Minister will embark on measures to resolve the controversy. They hope he will call for a no-holds-barred investigation into the allegations of corruption, cronyism and monopolistic practices.