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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (May 25, 2001 – The National/PINA Nius Online)---Acting Chief Censor Steven Mala has expressed concern that "objectionable" items including "sex aids" were being easily smuggled into Papua New Guinea because of lack of scrutiny by Customs officials.

But Commissioner General of the Internal Revenue Commission, David Sode, responded by saying that there was very little his office could do, especially regarding items classified as sex aids.

"Sex aid items have never been a prohibited item under the Customs Act," he said.

The two men were commenting separately yesterday after Censorship officers confiscated "morally objectionable" items from a gift shop, which opened on Tuesday, at a major hotel in Port Moresby.

The confiscated items included items called Mr. Big, Erotic Dice, Nubby Cock Candles, Mini Tittie Candles -- Light Up Your Life, Booby Party Whistles and Sex Ice Makers.

The object designs are based on male and female genitalia, especially Mr. Big, a rubber penis selling for K 25.90 (US$ 8.36) (large size) with the product information reading: "The fun and harmless way to get relief from frustration, agitation, and irritation -- Squeeze relief for the stressed out."

The Censorship Office was alerted to the presence of the items in the gift shop by members of the public.

The owners of the shop who rushed to the hotel after being informed of the presence of the censorship officers, said people were just being jealous about their new shop because the items had been cleared by customs and were being sold to people who wanted to send funny gifts to their partners and friends.

They said there were much more serious pornographic art forms in the shape of carvings at public places, including at major hotels.

But Mr. Mala said unless the items (which may include vibrators and medicinal drugs) had been cleared by the Secretary for Health on specific application by individuals on medical grounds, items brought in any other way would be confiscated and destroyed within 30 days, allowing time for appeal by the importers.

Mr. Mala said the items were banned for general sale and consumption to foster and uphold the principles of morality.

"Carvings are part of our culture. It's not like the sex aids that are being illegally brought in and the best they can do is get clearance from the Secretary of Health," he said.

"Because when it comes to issues of morality then that’s when the Censorship Office comes in."

Mr. Mala said the situation with imported items including pornographic magazines and video compact discs was "a bit out of control right now unless all appropriate authorities combine and fight it together."

He claimed that Customs officials may be checking only the declaration forms and not the contents of the goods, even if the declarations were false.

He said Customs checks at the international airport may have slackened a bit as well because officers were only doing random checks, unlike in the past when they physically checked passengers' bags and others items.

As a result, concealed items like CDs and magazines can be easily brought into the country.

Mr. Mala also stressed that they have a good working understanding with Customs who refer such cases to them.

The Censorship Office also recently confiscated gaming machines in which with each point you score, you undress a lady on the screen bit by bit until you hit the jackpot.

Not so long ago also, there was a public debate on totem polls being erected around the city by the National Capital District Commission, which forced the Censorship Board to step in.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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