SIBU: The vast state’s border with Kalimantan spanning 1,500km, riddled with ‘jalan tikus’ (illegal paths), is giving the authorities a massive headache when it comes to nabbing smugglers.
Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism (MDTCC) state director Wan Ahmad Uzir Wan Sulaiman lamented each time these illegal paths were closed, the smugglers would open up new ones.
He added they could only monitor designated Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) checkpoints.
“I don’t deny there are many ‘jalan tikus’ along the border and it is not easy to mount surveillance there. Every time the authorities close the illegal paths, the smugglers would open up new ones to evade detection. We are doing our best but it is never easy.
“We can control and monitor the movement of people and activities at designated CIQs. Hence, if they are caught with hanky-panky activities at the CIQ we can nab them,” Wan Uzir told The Borneo Post yesterday.
He was responding to a question on the best ways to weed out smuggling activities at the border.
On Wednesday morning, the ministry confiscated 924kg of subsidised sugar which was making its way across the border.
The director pointed out that the seizure was the largest in the state thus far this year.
On a suggestion to engage Rela to help beef up surveillance there, he said the vast border made it difficult to carry out monitoring activities.
Wan Uzir said they had 200 enforcement officers statewide, adding that it was not possible to station their men along the border round-the-clock.
“Our men are also needed to carry out enforcement and mount checks at other places such as keeping tabs of over 200 petrol stations and more than 1,000 points-of-sale spread across Sarawak.”
The various enforcement officers stationed at the CIQ consisted of Police, MDTCC, Customs, Immigration, and General Operation Force (GOF) to keep a check on smuggling activities.
He disclosed that imported sugar carried a green tag while subsidised one had blue tag.
On another matter, he said they were also using the media such as radio to help raise the awareness of consumers in the hinterlands.
“The information is disseminated in various languages to keep the listeners posted so that they will be better informed of their rights as consumers,” he said.
Towards this end, he was pleased to note that the awareness of consumers in the state had improved.
Earlier, at a prize presentation cum closing ceremony of the state ‘Cabaran Interaktif Pengguna KPS 2012’, he said the programme, which started in 1992 in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, had rolled out quizzes for secondary school students.
He noted the quiz programme was replaced with the interactive consumer challenge since last year.
“The programme utilises the recycle and exploration approach to excite the students,” he added.
Meanwhile, the challenge was divided into three zones, namely central, south and north.
“The winner for the state-level competition will represent Sarawak at the national level, slated from April 25 till 27 in Putrajaya,” he revealed.