(Malaysian News Library) Case of Jasin MP Datuk Mohd Said bin Yusof who asked Customs to close one eye over seized timber
Case of the MP who asked Customs to close one eye
Mohd Said admits owning Binyu Sof
By V. Vasudevan
(From New Straits Times Online of May 11, 2006)
KUALA LUMPUR: It's no coincidence - Binyu Sof Enterprise is indeed a company owned by Jasin MP Datuk Mohd Said Yusof.
In an open admission at a Press conference in the lobby of Parliament yesterday, the Malacca politician said he was the sole proprietor of the company which transported a consignment of imported logs seized by Customs last month.
This directly answered a poser front-paged by the New Straits Times yesterday over the similarity between his and the company's names.
The controversy arose since NST broke the story on Thursday of an MP who had tried to interfere with the work of the Malacca Customs, which had seized a consignment of timber that exceeded specifications.
Mohd Said said he had also apologised to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Tuesday night over the matter, but maintained he had done no wrong as "MPs are allowed to do business".
Mohd Said said the question of whether he was prepared to face punishment did not arise because the Umno supreme council had discussed the matter and concluded that "there was no case".
He had earlier admitted he was the one who went to the Malacca Customs office on April 14 to ask officers to "close one eye" over the seized timber.
"I am the sole proprietor. It is my forwarding company. I have, from the start, declared my interest in this company. I have never hidden my interest," he said, although he maintained that the consignment of logs seized was not his.
"I have no interest in the logs or the companies which brought them into the country. Binyu Sof only acted as a forwarding agent."
Mohd Said could not name the companies offhand, but said his company acted for one "Ah Chooi at the Sungai Rambai port and Daud in Sungai Linggi".
"We are a small company. Our office is like a petition writer's office... small. I have interest in both ports as a forwarding agent. I don't deny my interest in this matter as a forwarding agent. I am allowed to do business. Why can't MPs do business?"
Mohd Said took exception to a remark from a Customs officer in yesterday's NST report that it was not proper for an MP to help smugglers.
"How can I be accused of helping smugglers? The sawn timber was declared to the Customs. How can you say that these people are smugglers? Smugglers are those who run away from Customs, not those who seek Customs."
Reading intermittently from his prepared statement and taking questions from time to time, Mohd Said said he had gone to Malacca Customs to ask the director to "close one eye" to the import of sawn timber exceeding the size limit of 60 square inches in cross-section.
"I went there after Sungai Rambai importers, timber traders, jetty operators and forwarding agents came to my office to complain about the seizure," he said, pointing out that the group was a mix of Bumiputeras and non-Bumiputeras.
Mohd Said said since the start of the year, the Customs Department had been strictly enforcing the rule and trade players were unhappy as their sawn timber shipments were being seized and auctioned off.
Mohd Said said he had gone to the Malacca Customs headquarters in Ayer Keroh on April 14 and the meeting lasted 20 minutes.
"I went to meet the director as I would do whenever there was a problem. I went as Mohd Said, the owner of Binyu Sof and Jasin MP. The problem occurred in my constituency. I admit I am one of the players at the port. I admit I have interest. What's wrong with that?"
Mohd Said said the director met him and asked him what the problem was. "He called the assistant director in the prevention unit and the three of us discussed the problem. They told me they were enforcing the rule put in place by the Malaysian Timber Industry Board."
Mohd Said said he then appealed to them to consider the matter and compound those who broke the law.
"I appealed to them to just compound. If Customs seized the timber, the traders lose their investment and would have to fork out more money to buy back the timber at the auction.
"If the situation at both ports continue, the Indonesian barter traders will not go there anymore. It will turn the ports into a white elephant."
Mohd Said said this was when he asked the officers to "close one eye" and take into consideration that the sawn timber, though bigger, was hollow in the middle.
"I only asked them to compound and not seize the consignment."
Mohd Said said he also appealed to the Deputy Finance Minister on behalf of the other traders.
"However, the appeal was rejected and the entire consignment was auctioned off."
Asked if Abdullah had called him over the issue, Mohd Said said: "I met the PM last night (Tuesday). I saw him at the PWTC. I met him. I shook hands with him. I told him, if I was wrong, I am sorry."
Asked what the Prime Minister had said to him, Mohd Said said: "That, you ask him, lah."
Timber!: Poser over firm's name and MP
By Hamidah Atan, Farrah Naz Karim and Deborah Loh
(From New Straits Times Online of May 10, 2006)
PUTRAJAYA: There's something peculiar in the name of the company on whose behalf Jasin MP Datuk Mohd Said bin Yusof interceded with the Customs Department.
He had asked them to "close one eye" on the illegal import of sawn timber by a company named "Binyu Sof Enterprise".
In operation since 1990, the Malacca-based company this year alone breached the law 14 times by bringing in sawn timber exceeding the 60-square-inch cross-section area limit permitted by the Malaysian Timber Council.
The New Straits Times on Thursday front-paged a report of a Member of Parliament allegedly having asked the Customs and Excise Department to "close one eye" in a case involving the import of sawn timber.
Mohd Said admitted the next day to being the one mentioned in the report, amid mounting pressure in Parliament.
He admitted having gone to the Malacca Customs office on April 14 to "settle" the matter, asking the department to "close one eye" on the import of sawn timber exceeding the size limit.
A six-page report detailing the sequence of events and what transpired at the meeting between the MP and Customs officers was sent to the Finance Ministry last month.
A Customs official said the report noted some "hostility" in the manner Mohd Said had dealt with the Malacca Customs.
Both officers he met had also told him that doing as he asked would tarnish the integrity of the department, and that they had to uphold the law.
They therefore did not accede to Mohd Said's request, and proceeded instead to seize the consignment of timber and compound the agent who imported it.
Mohd Said in recent days has reiterated that he had only intervened in his capacity as an MP and that he was "helping a Bumiputera company in trouble".
He said he appealed to Customs to compound the agent and not seize the consignment. A senior Customs officer said yesterday that while it was the duty of an MP to help the rakyat, "it was not proper for them to help smugglers".