Sunday, September 26

Crackdown on illegal rubber tapping syndicate


SIBU: The police are serious in busting a syndicate employing illegal foreign rubber tappers in a few areas here.Sibu police chief ACP Shafie Ismail said this included renting of hotel rooms to record statements from individuals and witnesses who have direct involvement in the illegal activities.

He said they had to go to hotels because witnesses were reluctant to have their statements recorded at the police station for safety reasons.

“The main problem was that most of the witnesses are not willing to cooperate with the police because they fear their identities would be known by the syndicate

“Some could have been threatened by the criminals not to lodge any report. It takes time to convince the witnesses,” he said.

Shafie was speaking at a press conference held at Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) conference room in conjunction with the first meeting of Sibu Safe City Programme committee, yesterday.

Sibu Municipal Council chairman Datuk Tiong Thai King, deputy chairman Daniel Ngieng and secretary Hii Chang Kee were among those present.

Shafie said it was not an easy task for the police to catch the illegal workers even in broad daylight as there could be a trap set up by the syndicate in the rubber plantation area.

For this, the police would launch a massive operation to wipe out the syndicate, he assured.

He said they were now in the process of collecting information, working with the General Operation Force and Immigration Department.

He said the police had identified areas which included Durin, Sungai Bidut and Bukit Lan for them to zero in in their investigation.

The syndicate, he said, brought in the illegal immigrants through ‘jalan tikus’ in Entikong from Kalimantan.

“From our information, we believe the immigrants were employed to tap rubber in someone else’s estates. The owners of these estates are unaware of it as most of them are staying outside Sibu.

“Even those who are aware of the illegal activities dare not report them for safety reasons.”

The police, he said, needed at least three direct statements from those directly involved in such illegal activities to cripple the syndicate.

Earlier, when fielding a question from Ngieng, he said drug addiction problem in Sibu is still under control and Syabu was the most popular drug type used by the junkies.

While not mentioning the number of drug cases here, he said most of the cases did not involve drug addicts.

“The drugs were supplied from Peninsular Malaysia mostly from Johor, brought in through cargo as well as mail delivery.

“We have identified one or two of the big players (pushers) in Sibu for our investigation.”