January 5, 2004



Thai Chickens Smuggled Into Malaysia May Spread Bird Flu


Malaysian farmers have expressed fears over the possibility that live chicken, smuggled from Thailand, could spread the deadly bird flu to local birds.


Head of the Penang Poultry Farmers Association Ang Pun Heng said that although they do not import chicken from Thailand, smuggling is quite rampant.


"I am worried that the virus could have infected these smuggled chicks," he said. 


He was commenting on a report yesterday that the Terengganu Livestock Breeders Association had urged the state Veterinary Services Department to control the entry of chicken from Thailand, following the detection of a virus that causes avian influenza among birds in that country. 


The virus can be devastating for poultry, and in rare cases it can be deadly to humans. 


Ang said the smuggling of live chicks was compounded by cheaper chicken prices in Thailand compared to here. 


He appealed to the Customs Department to be more stringent when carrying out checks to curtail the smuggling of live chicks.  


On another matter, Ang said there would be enough supply of chickens during the coming Chinese New Year. 


However, he said consumers might have to pay slightly more as the price of chicken feed had increased since last year.