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China goods curb risks retaliation
Published on: Friday, August 23, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: A plantation firm is questioning the legality of unannounced Standard and Industrial Research Institute of Malaysia (Sirim) physical checks on Chinese imports that may have serious implications politically and economically, including retaliation.

Benn Osman, the Director of Boonrich Sdn Bhd, said according to Sirim, Customs has directed them to carry out physical checks before any container can be released – something which was not required before. 

“We have been importing galvanised iron (GI) pipes for our cattle farm complex for years. This is the first time our consignment of GI pipes is being held by Customs awaiting the issuance of a quality certificate by Sirim,” he said. 

He said their GI pipes have been held up for more than 14 days. To make matters worse, Sirim is unable to do any testing as their testing equipment is out of order, and have been advised to send the pipes to Shah Alam or Kuching for testing. 

“This is unbecoming of a government agency. Under the law the burden to check is at the entry point – Kota Kinabalu – and it is not the responsibility of the importer to send the items to Shah Alam or Kuching for testing. This is totally absurd, not to mention costly and missed opportunities as the pipes are required urgently. We refuse to send sample to Shah Alam and Kuching,” he said. 

“We contend that the restriction imposed by Malaysia on the importation of Chinese goods and the directive by Customs may be against Malaysian Law. 

“However, the bigger picture is with the International Trade Agreement, in particular Bilateral Agreements between China and Malaysia,” he said.

Benn said by imposing import restrictions, China may decide to do likewise by requiring Malaysian goods to be physically checked at the port of entry. 

He said International Trade is governed by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and Bilateral Agreement between countries (China and Malaysia). Malaysia has been accepting Chinese Sirim and British world class standard of United Kingdom (UKAS) all these years.

He said by not recognising the Chinese Quality Certificate, Malaysia is also effectively belittling the Chinese Authority. 

“The GI pipes have also been certified by Ukas (UK Accreditation Service), whose role is the same as Sirim. The only difference is that Chinese Law provide for heavy penalties including ‘execution’ for non-compliance of quality, as opposed to Malaysia where it imposes a fine of RM300 or three days jail,” he said. 

He said it is not understood why after all these years Malaysia decided not to recognise and accept Chinese Sirim and Ukas certificates, when countries all over the world do. 

“May be this Sirim physical check introduced recently for the purpose of creating jobs, which Malaysia is already the highest based on population in Asia,” Benn quipped. He said Malaysia’s decision not to recognise the Chinese Quality Certificate would also have far reaching implications politically and economically in relationship with China. 

“Tourists may stop coming, there are many alternative places for Chinese tourists apart from Malaysia or Sabah,” he said. 

“Malaysia must realise that China exports trillions of US$ goods all over the world to US, Europe, Asia, Middle East and Africa. 

“These countries have no problems recognising the Chinese Quality Certificate for goods. If Malaysia does not revise its restrictions on Chinese imports, China will reciprocate by imposing physical checks on goods from Malaysia such as surgical gloves, durians and seafood,” he said. 

He said Musang King Durian farmers, especially, may have to worry over the new development. “The durian from Sabah will take at least 12 days before reaching Chinese customers. 

“This is calculated from one day for harvesting, one day for transporting, both Customs and Agriculture need four days to clear and then Sirim another five days to send the durian to Shah Alam or Kuching for testing (Sirim testing Rosak),” he said. 

“We appeal to Members of Parliament to study carefully any law before them. Over the years Parliament has simply passed any law submitted to it. 

“Normally Members of Parliament do not bother to check properly. They just accepted whatever is submitted by Ministry (Minister). 

“This has resulted in Ministry Departments getting a free hand to impose all kinds of silly regulations and restrictions without much thought to the economy,” he said.

“Malaysia has a reputation of having many unnecessary laws and regulations, and here we have a department that questions the quality standards of China and a world established standard UKAS, and yet they (Sirim) cannot even get their testing equipment to work.” 

He said at this stage of Sabah economic development, it needs cheaper building and agricultural materials. These materials from China are 30-40pc cheaper than from Malaya. 

It is understood those materials imported from Malaya to Sabah were originally from China, that is why they are expensive.

“We are looking into the legality of the Sirim physical checks. We reserve the right to claim for compensation from the Government of Malaysia (Customs and Sirim), for losses incurred as a direct result of this new regulation,” he said. 

 



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