KUCHING: Sarawak Customs Department has seized 210.86kg of processed bird nests concealed in various consignment packages.

Its director Datuk Sharifah Halimah Tuanku Taha said acting on information, Customs officers from the operation team and the Special Passenger Unit foiled an attempt to smuggle the bird nest worth RM2.108 million to Hong Kong at the Kuching International Airport (KIA) on Friday.

In the 11.40pm raid, the officers managed to detain eight consignment packages (boxes) at KIA’s Outbound Loading Bay cargo centre.

“The eight packages bound for Hong Kong and on transit at Kuala Lumpur were scanned and after officers found something suspicious, a thorough inspection was carried out and the 210.86kg of processed bird nests were found,” she said in a statement yesterday.

Further investigations revealed that the goods had no Customs 2 (K2) document, a Sarawak Veterinary Department permit and a letter from the Department of Forestry (Wildlife protection).

She added that the modus operandi was to smuggle the high-quality bird nest via commercial flights to Hong Kong by transporting the goods using baggage allowance to fool the authority for the purpose of evading Customs 2 Pledge Form, export permits and high levy fees.

Halimah stressed that the case was being investigated under Section 135(1) (a) of the Customs Act 1967.

If convicted, the offender shall be fined not less than 10 times the amount of Customs duty or RM100,000 whichever is greater and not more than 20 times the value of the Customs duty or RM500,000 whichever is greater or a jail term of not less than six months and not more than five years, or both.

Therefore, she urged the public to cooperate with the department in channelling information on any smuggling activities or controls without import permits by contacting the Customs Toll Free Line 1-800-88-8855, or via the department’s website at http://aduan.customs.gov.my or come forward to any nearby Customs Office nationwide.

She said the identity of complainants will be kept confidential.

It has been estimated that each year, Sarawak bird nest traders, through e-commerce or export to China or Hong Kong, sell about 60 tonnes of bird nests.

Price per kilogramme of untreated bird’s nest now fetches between RM3,000 and RM3,200, while the treated ones anything from RM4,000 to RM6,000.

Presently, bird nest traders or farmers who export through proper channels pay RM50 in tax for every kilogramme. Based on RM50 per kilogramme, it means bird nest trading can contribute RM3 million in tax to the state coffers.