Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Tighter scrutiny at checkpoints

A car being given a comprehensive  check

STRINGENT checks on all vehicles, both Malaysian registered and foreign ones, were seen at the border checkpoint, here yesterday.

A three-hour observation by the New Straits Times saw owners of the vehicles abiding by all rules and regulations and instructions given by the authorities at the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex (CIQC) as their vehicles were thoroughly checked.

Boots of passenger vehicles leaving and entering the country were inspected by Customs officers.

Pick-up trucks, in particular, were subjected to thorough screening to detect modified vehicles transporting Malaysian subsidised fuel out of the country and also smuggling of controlled items at the Anti-Smuggling Unit (UPP) checkpoint, about five kilometres from the CIQC.

Some of the passengers, when asked, said they were used to the situation as they had been going through such thorough checks for some time now.

When queried if the strict checking was due to the exclusive report in the NST on brazen smuggling activities at borders, both the state Customs Department director Mohd Pudzi Man and state UPP commander Deputy Superintendent Zakaria Abd Rahman said the stringent checks on vehicles were an ongoing process.

Both were shocked with what was uncovered by the NST team. The team had joined several covert surveillance operations, which found agencies tasked with foiling smuggling activities, were infact closing an eye to movements of price-controlled goods by foreigners and Malaysians.

"We are very strict in this matter especially when it comes to bribery.

"We have repeatedly advised our personnel to always be honest in their daily duties and its a big No No to accept bribes which can come in many forms -- coffee money (duit kopi), gifts and others," said Pudzi.

"Such a conduct, by any of my people, can never be accepted. In fact we have conducted raids and seized more than RM2.5 million worth of goods, including drugs, firecrackers, explosives and cigarettes last year."

Zakaria said smuggling activities at border towns in Padang Besar and Wang Kelian were under control, but admitted that a few cases might "slip" through.
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