Seized stock­piles val­ued at RM1.28b

New Straits Times - - News / Story Of The Day -

KUANTAN: The 10 mil­lion tonnes of baux­ite stock­piles seized by the Malaysian Anti-Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion are es­ti­mated to be worth RM1.28 bil­lion and most are con­cen­trated in ar­eas around Felda Bukit Goh and Kuantan port here.

Pa­hang Min­ing Op­er­a­tors As­so­ci­a­tion vice-pres­i­dent Yap Soon Huat said the es­ti­ma­tion was based on the av­er­age ex­port price of a tonne of the min­eral at US$30 (RM128).

“I was sur­prised when in­formed about the 10 mil­lion tonnes of baux­ite con­fis­cated by MACC as baux­ite min­ing dropped af­ter the govern­ment en­forced the mora­to­rium (on min­ing baux­ite).

“I am not sure who is min­ing baux­ite il­le­gally. Last year’s records showed that baux­ite ex­port only came to six mil­lion tonnes while for 2015, there were 25 mil­lion tonnes of known (baux­ite) that was recorded. It was the high­est baux­ite ex­port in the world af­ter In­done­sia halted its (baux­ite) min­ing.”

On Satur­day, MACC an­nounced that it would seize 10 mil­lion met­ric tonnes of baux­ite stock­piles to pre­vent the min­eral from be­ing sold and to fa­cil­i­tate a probe into il­le­gal baux­ite min­ing.

The con­fis­ca­tion of stock­piles found on govern­ment and pri­vate land is made un­der Sec­tion 33 of the MACC Act 2009. Those who con­tra­vene the seizure no­tice can be pun­ished un­der Sec­tion 69 of the same Act.

MACC had also sug­gested that the Nat­u­ral Re­sources and En­vi­ron­ment Min­istry relook the is­suance of Ap­proved Per­mits (APs) to baux­ite min­ers and the can­cel­la­tion of APs is­sued pre­vi­ously.

Pa­hang MACC di­rec­tor Datuk Alias Salim con­firmed sev­eral ar­eas where baux­ite stock­piles were seized were lo­cated near Felda Bukit Goh and Kuantan Port.

How­ever, he de­clined to pro­vide de­tails about the op­er­a­tion.

On Aug 2, MACC con­ducted a crack­down on il­le­gal baux­ite min­ing, nab­bing a se­nior state Cus­toms en­force­ment of­fi­cer, 10 state Land and Mines Of­fice (PTG) en­force­ment of­fi­cers, and a PTG gen­eral as­sis­tant.

The Cus­toms of­fi­cer was al­leged to have taken kick­backs to turn a blind eye to il­le­gal­lymined baux­ite taken to Kuantan Port to be ex­ported.

The 10 of­fi­cers were pur­ported to have re­ceived bribes to in­form min­ers of raids by the au­thor­i­ties.

Ac­cord­ing to MACC deputy pub­lic prose­cu­tor Mo­hamad Fadhly Mohd Zamry, only the PTG gen­eral as­sis­tant re­mained un­der re­mand while the oth­ers had been re­leased from re­mand.

At the Kuantan Courts Com­plex here yes­ter­day, mag­is­trate Nor­diana Abd Aziz al­lowed an ap­pli­ca­tion by MACC pros­e­cut­ing of­fi­cer Mohd Faisal Ibrahim to ex­tend the re­mand on the gen­eral as­sis­tant.

His re­mand was or­dered to run for five days from yes­ter­day to Fri­day.

Checks in Felda Bukit Goh here found a sign, at an en­trance to land where there were baux­ite stock­piles, no­ti­fy­ing peo­ple of the seizure.

A drive in ma­jor roads in the plan­ta­tion re­veals wide clear­ings with tow­er­ing stock­piles of baux­ite.

Heavy ma­chin­ery and ex­ca­va­tors lay si­lent in ar­eas where red­dish baux­ite stained the earth, their op­er­a­tors not seen in the vicin­ity.

Now and then, white four-wheel drive ve­hi­cles could be seen parked at the side of the road lead­ing to land where baux­ite stock­piles are lo­cated.

The iden­ti­ties of the driv­ers or other oc­cu­pants within were hard to de­ter­mine due to the ve­hi­cles’ tinted win­dows.

These ve­hi­cles hint at the pres­ence of “ton­tos”, or look­outs pur­port­edly used by min­ers to look out for raids and keep at­ten­tion away from min­ing in the set­tle­ment.

On Jan 15 last year, the Nat­u­ral Re­sources and En­vi­ron­ment Min­istry or­dered a mora­to­rium on baux­ite min­ing.

The Fed­eral Govern­ment or­der, how­ever, per­mit­ted trans­porta­tion of baux­ite stock­piles, col­lected from min­ing done be­fore the mora­to­rium, out from min­ing ar­eas to Kuantan Port for ship­ment over­seas.

PIC BY FARIZUL HAFIZ AWANG

A no­tice from the Malaysian Anti-Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion in­form­ing peo­ple of the baux­ite stock­pile seizure in Felda Bukit Goh in Kuantan yes­ter­day.

Yap Soon Huat

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