UPDATE: Tan Kin Lian has since written to The Independent and has claimed that he was joking that customs officers asked him if he has Tongkat Ali to declare.
Former presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian took to Facebook yesterday to say that he was busted at the Changi Airport by a customs officer who wanted to know if he was carrying any Tongkat Ali through the Singapore checkpoint. Mr Tan said a “traitor tipped him off”.
Changi airport customs officer – are you Mr Tan?Any tongkat ali to declare?A traitor tipped him off!
Tongkat Ali (or Malaysian ginseng as it is more commonly known in other parts of the world) is generally known as an aphrodisiac. The root is boiled in water, and the water is consumed as a health tonic for post-partum recovery, as an aphrodisiac, as well as the relief of fever, intestinal worms, dysentery, diarrhoea, indigestion, and jaundice.
The funny thing is, Mr Tan had earlier self-declared in his Facebook that he had bought Tongkat Ali.
I bought tongkat ali. Take 4 slices. Make several rounds of tea until the flavor is gone. Can drink a few rounds daily. Rumour Dr M takes it. RM 340.
He said he bought the aphrodisiac for Ringgit Malaysia 340 (approx. 100 Singapore Dollar) and even described how to make the herbal concoction.
“I bought tongkat ali. Take 4 slices. Make several rounds of tea until the flavor is gone. Can drink a few rounds daily.”
He added that it is rumoured that the Malaysian Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, takes the herbal aphrodisiac as well.
When a Facebook user cautioned him that it may be illegal to bring the herbal root into Singapore, Mr Tan replied: “If customs say cannot, some fb fan must have tipped them off.”
Another Facebook user who responded to Mr Tan’s post tagged Singapore’s Immigration and Checkpoints Authority to it.
Prominent blogger mrbrown who responded to Mr Tan’s claim that he was betrayed by a “traitor” said Mr Tan alone was to be blamed for getting himself into trouble.
Former Presidential hopeful, Mr Tan Kin Lian posted this on his FB yesterday, whilst in Penang:“I bought tongkat ali….
mrbrown joked: “Like this how to have a happy ending?”
Tongkat Ali is banned from being exported from Malaysia. The Malaysian government has listed as one of the priority medicinal species for conservation, and the harvesting of wild trees is restricted according to Act 686 on International Trade in Endangered Species.
UPDATE: After this news report was published, Mr Tan posted a clarification on his Facebook saying the Tongkat Ali incident ‘never happened’ and that he only started it as a ‘joke’.