SIBU: Owners of businesses caught selling contraband cigarettes and liquor will be remanded for at least three days, instead of just getting fined.
Royal Malaysian Custom Department deputy director Datuk Matrang Suhaili said a stricter penalty was necessary to deter repeat offenders.
“Previously, offenders can get away easily by just paying compound. Now, we will haul them to court if there is sufficient evidence,” he said at the launch of Ops Pacak Sarawak.
“I appeal to businesses to stop selling contraband products immediately. Fake products are also dangerous to consumers’ health,” he added.
Matrang said the department was serious in combatting the sale of contraband products as the country lost millions of ringgit to smuggling activities.
Ops Pacak will be effective for two weeks from yesterday until June 8. During the period, Customs Department-led operations, involving other government agencies such as local authorities, Immigration, police and the Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Ministry.
Matrang said local authorities could use their by-law to take stern action against those caught selling contraband items.
He said Customs confiscated contraband products worth RM1.4mil in the first four months of this year, compared with RM1.6mil the previous year.
“The amount of tax involved in these goods, however, increased dramatically by 129% to RM9.7mil in the first four months versus RM4.3mil in 2015.”
“A total of 89 people were found guilty by the court during the period for selling contraband cigarettes,” he said.