Friday, August 14

Ministry seizes controlled items near border

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KUCHING: The Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Sarawak branch scored a major success recently when it seized a total of 54.5 tonnes of subsidised sugar valued at more than RM189,000 bound for the border.

SEIZED: Wan Ahmad (third right) and his officers show reporters the gas cylinders seized from the wholesaler. — Bernama photo

State director Wan Ahmad Uzir Wan Sulaiman said the seizure came about in Tebedu near the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) checkpoint when officers detained a foreign-registered lorry as it was about to cross the border.

“The lorry was laden with 103 gunny sacks of subsidised sugar weighing 5.15 metric tonnes, worth RM81,330

“From there, we were led to a warehouse belonging to a wholesaler where a further 49.36 metric tonnes of subsidised sugar worth RM108,605 was found,” said Wan Ahmad during a press conference held at the ministry’s office here yesterday.

He revealed that at the time of the raid, workers at the warehouse were busy re-packing the subsidised sugar into generic gunny sacks and packets in an attempt to conceal their crime from authorities.

The wholesale company, he pointed out, had violated the Control Supply Act 1961 at it was only licensed to hold a maximum of 40 metric tonnes of subsidised sugar at any one time.

In addition to the sugar, ministry officers also seized 120 gas cylinders worth RM11,592 from the warehouse after it was found the company was not authorised to sell the item.

According to Wan Ahmad, the operation, which took place on January 22 and 23, came after three weeks of observation following numerous complaints from the public regarding the smuggling of controlled items such as sugar, cooking oil and gas cylinders across the border.

When asked, he conceded that the seized sugar was likely destined for a neighbouring country, where the retail price was RM3.80 per kg compared to RM2.20 here.

Wan Ahmad also added the wholesale company faces a fine not exceeding RM250,000, or RM500,000 for a second offence, if found guilty in court.

He called on the public to assist by providing tip-offs to the ministry regarding smuggling activities, and assured that his men would continue to monitor all land exit routes out of the country, particularly at all CIQ checkpoints, to curb the smuggling of controlled items.