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Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Focus operations on licensed VCD companies, says Cabinet

ARKIB : 17/06/2003

KUALA LUMPUR June 16 - The Cabinet has instructed that pirated and pornographic VCD and DVD eradication operations also focus on 42 licensed companies that may be producing the illegal materials.

Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said so far two companies had their licences cancelled while seven cases would be brought to court for breaching the Optical Act 1991.

"We approved the licence for them to produce genuine products but they took advantage of the rampant piracy activities and joined in," he told reporters at the parliament lobby Monday.

The cabinet decision is an open warning for licensed factories to stop their illegal activity. They can be charged under the Copyrights Act or the Optical Act 1991, he said.

Meanwhile, the ministry would boost its prosecution unit by bringing on experts in intellectual property rights and copyright act to ensure that no errant company or factory is let off the hook.

"We've asked the Attorney General' Chambers to help set up a special team to prepare prosecution papers to bring cases to court and ensure stiff penalty," he said. There are now 1,700 such cases.

"From previous experience, some cases that should have been found guilty were rejected by the court, due to shortage of prosecution legal experts," he said.

Now, we want our cases to be water-tight so that offenders will not escape the law, he said.

Enforcement to eradicate copyright piracy and pornographic VCD and DVD would continue, Muhyiddin added.

IN a related development, the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry, in its nationwide operation against the sale and distribution of pirated and pornographic video compact discs (VCDs), had seized a total of 258,569 pirated VCDs worth RM1.7 million in the first two weeks of June.

In the raids on 94 open and 159 permanent premises nationwide, no pornographic VCDs were found, the daily report from the ministry's Enforcement Division said in KUALA LUMPUR Monday.

The report also said that in the raids on six open and six permanent premises Sunday night, 1,521 VCDs, valued at RM10,781, were confiscated.

No pornographic VCDs were found in Sunday's operation.

The Kuala Lumpur Federal Territory recorded the highest number of seizures with 586 VCDs, followed by Sarawak (454), Perak (354), Johor (57), Kelantan (32), Melaka (23) and Penang (15).

MEANWHILE, In SINGAPORE, Channel News Asia reported an estimated S$20,000 worth of uncensored and obscene VCDs, DVDs and CDs were found in a Malaysian-registered van at Woodlands Checkpoint.

Officers from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) found a modified fuel tank and discovered two latches leading to a secret compartment in the van on Sunday, said the TV station.

It contained 8,000 pieces of uncensored and obscene VCDs, DVDs and CDs.

According to Channel News Asia, ICA officers placed the 33-year-old Malaysian driver under arrest and seized the vehicle.

The total Goods and Service Tax (GST) involved is about S$900, and Singapore Customs is investigating the case further, it said.

If found guilty, the suspect could be fined up to a maximum of 20 times the amount of custom duties and GST involved.

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