PUTRAJAYA: A significant number of those found by the authorities to buy and possess pirated and counterfeit goods were foreign tourists visiting Malaysia.
Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Mohd Shafie Apdal said its enforcement officers found this to be the case in a recent 'zero tolerance campaign' in Kuala Lumpur.
"Consumer education and awareness raising programmes should not only be directed at developing countries but be adopted by the developed nations for their residents as well.
"We have evidence to suggest that many of the purchasers of these illegal goods are unaware or pretended ignorance of the fact that they too are breaking the law when we found them to possess such stuff.
"Public consumer education should be at the heart of our preventative strategies and I hope others will join me in urging an increase in the range and effectiveness of such programmes," he said in his speech at the Third Global Congress on Combating Counterfeiting and Piracy.
The two-day event is jointly organised by the World Intellectual Property Organisation, Interpol and the World Customs Organisation.
Shafie said modern investigative methods and a network of intelligence sharing should also be enhanced among countries trying to stem the piracy of intellectual property.
He said this was due to the fact that many goods could now be illegally reproduced in small and highly mobile production units through the use of modern technology.
"I propose that we look at new ways and means of improving inter-nation intelligence sharing including best practice detection work and the identification of known criminals. The development of an intellectual property abuse data base could also include information on prosecutions and convictions," he added.
Shafie said for government measures and legislation to really take its toll on intellectual piracy, there should be effective and compatible law enforcement systems put into place in every country.
"If there is cross border imbalance, there is ample evidence to suggest that the criminal will seek out and exploit the weakest point in enforcement regimes. This way, we can ensure there is no hiding place or comfort zone," he said.
Another matter for concern, said Shafie, was that increased in piracy detection and prosecution rates in Malaysia had put an immense pressure on local courts.
"This comparatively new crime requires levels of technical knowledge and understanding currently lacking among much of the legal profession," he said, adding that for this reason, Malaysia was mulling the concept of an IP court.
Shafie said since 2000, Malaysian enforcement officers had acted against 28 illegal factories and brought charges against another 18 licensed premises for producing pirated VCD copies.