JOHOR BARU - No one has ever been caught or charged under the National Heritage Act 2005 despite the rampant selling and buying of artefacts and state treasures in Johor.
It is also learnt that while the Act clearly states that it is an offence to transfer, demolish, remove, alter, renovate or export any national heritage, enforcement itself is minimal.
Those found guilty under the Act face a jail term of up to five years or a fine of up to RM50,000 (S$19,400) or both.
"Officials from the National Heritage Department are in charge of enforcing the law but they currently do not have enough manpower to do so," said a source close to the department.
Most of the time, said the source, the department was only made aware of these treasures when it was told by those who had stumbled upon these artefacts.
"Even after that, it is difficult for officials to constantly monitor the finds. Sometimes, these are sold privately to the highest bidder," said the source.
He was commenting on a report in The Star that artefacts and treasures from the old Johor kingdom and Malacca were being sold at lucrative prices in a thriving black market.
Yayasan Warisan Johor director Muhammad Fuad Radzuan said that under the law, those wanting to sell or export artefacts over a 100-year-old would need to apply for a licence from the National Heritage Department.