08 April 2011

Angry forwarding agents call MACC ‘murderers’

By Shannon Teoh
PORT KLANG, April 6 — An innocuous negotiation at the Customs office here over the use of a new import form system turned ugly after news of Ahmad Sarbani Mohamed’s death leaked out to forwarding agents who had come to get their forms cleared.

Calling the assistant director in the Customs Department’s import/export division “their favourite officer,” over 100 agents gathered outside the gates of the premises where Ahmad Sarbani used to work.

They hung posters on the gates with slogans such as “Suruhanjaya Pembunuh Rakyat Malaysia” as they expressed their anger both at the Customs Department and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). 
“He was the cleanest and most helpful officer. The MACC was tipped-off by other officers who were jealous of his good relationship with us,” said A. Kumaran.

Another agent who refused to be named said that Ahmad Sarbani, who fell to his death from the third floor of the MACC building in Cheras this morning, could be counted on to understand their problems.

“Every day that our forms are not cleared, we get charged for storage of the containers. He understands when we need to close our shipments,” he said.

The 56-year-old officer had returned to the MACC office today despite already giving his statement in relation to an investigation into a Customs syndicate worth billions in unpaid taxes.

MACC investigations director Datuk Mustafar Ali said the Customs officer’s body was found sprawled on the first floor at 10.15am.

The death comes even as a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) is being conducted into the anti-graft body’s operating procedures following the death of former DAP aide Teoh Beng Hock, who also fell to his death from an MACC building.

Teoh was found dead on July 16, 2009 on the fifth floor of Plaza Masalam, Shah Alam, where the Selangor MACC office was then located.

Last week’s nationwide Customs dragnet swept 84 forwarding agents, a holding company and its 24 subsidiaries, and also led to the raid of 25 Customs premises.

Airfreight Forwarders Association of Malaysia (AFAM) chairman Walter Culas, who had been negotiating over the delay in processing the K1 forms, told The Malaysian Insider that the agents had become “emotional because they have been frustrated that their forms have been held up.”

“They like this officer but the main issue is the forms,” he said.

Customs introduced a new system last week where forwarding agents are no longer allowed to choose which officer to file their forms with.

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