KUALA LUMPUR: The authorities have stumbled upon large numbers of archaeological artefacts, prompting them to look into the possibility that Malaysia has become a transit country for antiques.
The artefacts comprising plates, bowls and statuettes of deities, among other things, are believed to be from the Ming Dynasty and originating from the Malay Archipelago and Indochina.
The goods are being kept in large numbers, said Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, who had seen the artefacts himself.
His ministry and the Department of Museums and Antiquities were studying whether the goods were genuine and their implications on the nation.
The party involved has to get permission and co-operation from the director-general of museums and other related authorities.
In the instance that this matter is not against the law, we need to know why Customs did not inform the department, said Dr Rais.
He said the Government was aware that a number of groups used Malaysia as a transit country for antiques or artefacts from several countries, including China, the Philippines and Cambodia.
Meanwhile, Museums and Antiquities director-general Datuk Dr Adi Taha said under the Antiquities Act 1976 there were no provisions requiring anyone bringing antiques into the country to first get the permission of the department or the ministry.
However, he said they needed to get a permit from the department to export antiques.
Customs officials said anyone wishing to bring in antiques to the country had to make a declaration by completing an approved permit form. Bernama