TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Ho Chih-wei (何志偉) said on Tuesday (May 14) that in order to prevent the spread of African swine fever (ASF) to Taiwan, the law needs to be amended to raise the penalty for people caught smuggling pork from infected countries multiple times to NT$3 million (US$96,000).
Ho and fellow DPP legislators Wu Kuen-yuh (吳焜裕) and Lin Ching-yi (林靜儀) held a press conference in the Legislative Yuan on Tuesday titled, "Do not allow Chinese pork, Taiwan will make a fortune." During the press conference, they proposed an amendment to the Statute for Prevention and Control of Infectious Animal Disease (動物傳染病防治條例) to increase the fine for those caught smuggling pork the first time from NT$200,000 to NT$1 million and repeat offenders from NT$1 million to NT$3 million, reported CNA.
Ho said that since the regulations had been previously amended to raise the fine to NT$200,000, 235 passengers have been caught attempting to smuggle banned pork products into the country, indicating an insufficient awareness of the seriousness of the ASF epidemic by travelers, according to the report. Ho said that Australia imposes a maximum penalty of 9.2 million, while Japan levies a similar fine but also can impose a prison sentence of up to three years.
Lin said that he has asked airlines flying out of ASF-infected countries to notify passengers to toss any pork products purchased in those countries into the trash before boarding the plane. He said that instead of going through a long list of what they can and cannot bring, airlines should simply tell passengers "Don't bring meat back to Taiwan," reported CNA.
Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) said that most violations were from China because passengers do not have access to open and transparent information. He said that Chinese passengers are not aware of the ASF outbreak in China, and they not only try to smuggle in pork, but also bring in a variety of beef, chicken, and duck products, which are "a headache to deal with at the airport every day."
Chen said that under current regulations, if the passengers are not able to pay the penalty, then they will be sent back to their home country immediately.