Although the shipment of radar equipment that transited the Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP) has been found safe at its destination, the security oversight remains a cause for concern.
Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar said the lapse in security once again shows outside powers could use Malaysia to further their own ends, in ways that could affect national security.
She noted that the Royal Customs Department’s investigation on the “lapse in security” is focused on compliance with its standard operating procedures when releasing goods that require a permit under the Strategic Trade Act 2010, but said there are other questions that still need answers.
“Does it mean that the equipment was brought in without the necessary permits? What is in the investigation and what are its findings? How was the equipment shipped abroad without us realising it, or without the authorities approving it?
“To date, we still don’t have a clear picture of what kind of high-tech equipment was inside. We are also unclear on what are its true functions and capabilities.
“I fear that the authorities’ oversight would pave way for a recurrence of the VX nerve agent attack at KLIA2 not long ago,” she said in a statement today.
The nerve agent was the suspected weapon used in the murder of the North Korean national Kim Jong-nam at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Feb 13, by smearing the substance on his face.
The substance is listed under Schedule 1 of the Chemical Weapons Convention Act 2005 and Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) 1997. Its manufacture, storage, transport, and usage are subject to strict controls under international law, if not outlawed completely.
Nurul Izzah said the use of the chemical weapon of mass destruction had clearly put the lives of thousands of passengers at the airport at risk.
“Therefore, I reiterate the call to form a parliamentary select committee on defence matters.
“The parliament should be the platform to discuss national defence issues that have become a matter of concern for many MPs,” she said.
On June 29, The Star reported that radar equipment in transit from Australia to the Netherlands had been detained at PTP about a month earlier pending the necessary permits from the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
However, an audit could not locate the equipment at the port, and a police report was then lodged.
Later that day, Customs director-general T Subromaniam (photo) said the consignment had been found at its destination in Rotterdam Port in the Netherlands.
He said the department is investigating compliance to its SOP in releasing consignments that need permits under the Strategic Trade Act 2010.
Meanwhile, the Johor Port Authority said the consignment was never lost but was under constant guard by PTP management and other government agencies.
It was then loaded onto the vessel Emma Maersk on June 3, and had arrived safely at Rotterdam Port, it said.
“It should be clarified that throughout the time the container was in transshipment at PTP, PTP had cooperated with government agencies particularly with the Royal Malaysian Customs which is now improving its compliance with the SOP in relation to the Strategic Trade Act 2010,” it added.
Neither the Johor Port Authority nor the Customs Department had addressed how the consignment was released for shipment.