No evidence HDB sand is illegal

Singapore says there is no evidence that sand received by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) has been smuggled out of Malaysia as alleged by The Star newspaper.

In response to media queries, a spokesperson for the Ministry of National Development (MND) said that HDB engages sand suppliers on a commercial basis to supply sand for its development works.

As part of the procurement process, HDB requires its tenderers to produce quality certificates and export permits to confirm that their supply is from approved concessions in the source countries.

In addition, the spokesperson said Singapore Customs has in place procedures to check and investigate the import of goods at the checkpoints.

Sand suppliers must have the necessary import permits to come through the Pulau Punggol Timor Aggregate Terminal, which is managed by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) on the government’s behalf.

In a report on Wednesday, The Star newspaper alleged that sand worth millions of ringgit is being illegally “floated” out of Malaysia through Sungai Johor – and that this has been going on for the past three years.

The newspaper said its investigating team found that the sand ends up in Singapore, despite an export ban by the Malaysian government.

The paper reported that mining syndicates used barges to illegally transport the sand, via Danga Bay and Tanjung Pelepas port to Singapore.

It said a Singapore company obtains the sand from a Malaysian partner and supplies it to HDB for construction projects.

To circumvent the ban on sand export, the syndicates are believed to have masked the sand as processed or “packed” silica sand, which can be exported.

The Star said further investigations revealed that the illegal business started after a contract worth RM62.4 million (S$26.7 million) was awarded by the Malaysian government to a private company to carry out redesign and rectification works at Sungai Johor.

Checks revealed that since the project started in August 2007, a total of 3 million cubic metres of sand had been smuggled out.

The paper estimated that at S$30 per cubic metre, the syndicates could have raked in RM207 million over the two-year period of the project.

After the project’s completion, the syndicates continued to “export” sand to Singapore.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 25 Jun 2010

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