THE NATION NEWS - FIVE TONNES OF SMUGGLED ROSEWOOD SENT BACK BY MALAYSIA
MALAYSIA presented Thailand yesterday with 158 pieces of Siamese rosewood valued at Bt20 million, in what authorities said was the first time the contraband wood has been sent back to its country of origin under Cites (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) regulations.
The rosewood was seized by Malaysian officials in a case that concluded last July.
Somchai Channarongkul, director-general of the Department of Agriculture, received the five-tonne load yesterday morning from Hajjah Norchahaya Hashim, deputy director-general of the Malaysian Timber Industry Board, at a ceremony at Region 8 Agricultural Research and Development Centre in Songkhla's Hat Yai district.
Somchai said bilateral cooperation on the issue stemmed from an agreement three years ago when Thailand hosted a Cites conference.
He said the Siamese rosewood - protected by both Thailand's Forest Act 1941 and Cites - was smuggled into Malaysia in 2013.
The Department of Agriculture would pass the rosewood on to the Royal Thai Forestry Department, he said. While there is little demand for the wood in Malaysia, it was suspected that country was meant to be a transit point en route to the wood's final destination.
Hajjah said Malaysia was implementing strict checks and prosecuting smugglers given its recognition of the value of the endangered Siamese Rosewood.
The recent seizure also reflected Malaysia's commitment to act against the illegal trade of Cites-protected products and return them to the country of origin, she added.
(Note: The repatriation ceremony was held on 25 April 2016)