By Nigel Edgar
KUCHING, May 16: Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Chong Chieng Jen is urging Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas to halt imports of fresh milk from West Malaysia.
Citing a circular by the state Department of Veterinary Services (DVS), Chong said West Malaysia is not free from the foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) that has been infecting many farm animals in several countries in Asia.
However, according to the DVS circular, Sarawak is still free from FMD. Hence, Uggah, who is also Minister for Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development should look into this matter.
“But what happened is that despite the circular (by DVS), we still find fresh milk products coming from West Malaysia,” said Chong, holding two empty cartons of fresh milk products manufactured in Johor and Selangor.
Speaking to reporters at Sarawak RTM headquarters this afternoon, Chong suggested importing fresh milk products from Australia or New Zealand, as these two countries, according to DVS, are free from FMD.
“If the state government does not take this matter seriously, one day this milk might end up contaminating our poultry. If any of our pigs, cows and chickens are found to have contracted FMD, then our state status as a region free from FMD will be destroyed, and then we cannot export our pork and our fresh milk to Singapore and other countries,” cautioned Chong.
He noted that the state had been making good revenue from exporting live pigs and pork to Singapore, and the state government should maintain it and not let the state’s status as FMD-free to be at risk of being revoked.
“Singapore is importing our pigs. So, it is very good revenue. Reason being we are a FMD-free region. They are not importing pigs from West Malaysia, not even pork.
“So if they found that we have in our market, on the shelves of our supermarket, fresh milk from a region that is not free from FMD, then they (Singapore) may reconsider the permit for us to export our pork to Singapore,” opined Chong.
FMD is an infectious and sometimes fatal viral disease that affects cloven-hoofed animals, including domestic and wild bovids, and pigs.
Human infection from FMD, not to be confused with the hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFMD) infecting children, is rare as the FMD virus is sensitive to the human digestive system, particularly the stomach acid. — DayakDaily