PUTRAJAYA: Smugglers will not have an easy time now that the number of border security personnel has been increased 10-fold under a new multi-agency force.
From only a 909-strong workforce serving the anti-smuggling unit now, the agency will have about 10,000 people to mobilise and monitor the borders along the northern part of the peninsula, thanks to the various agencies that have been roped in for the purpose.
Apart from police, the Border Security Agency – which came into effect administratively starting yesterday – will comprise Customs, immigration, the army’s border regiment personnel and enforcement officers from the Malaysia Kenaf and Tobacco Board.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said this was a significant achievement as the setting up of the agency did not require additional cost nor the creation of new posts.
“There is an urgency for us to look at areas along our border not only to prevent human trafficking activities but also to put a stop to the smuggling of goods, especially subsidised items,” he said after chairing a high level committee meeting on the matter yesterday.
It is understood that RM5bil worth of subsidised goods were smuggled across the northern borders annually, which is causing losses to the Government.
Dr Ahmad Zahid said a substantial section of the border which had earlier been fenced up had been destroyed by smugglers.
The plan now is to install electric fencing and have surveillance equipment such as the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle and drone cameras operating there.
Authorities have identified at least 1,200 hot spots at the borders of Malaysia and Thailand and they believe the number could be more in Sabah and Sarawak.
“We will discuss with the Sabah and Sarawak state governments on how to co-operate on this matter,” he said, adding that the two states have a different set of immigration rules.
On another matter, Dr Ahmad Zahid said the proposed public debate between 1Malaysia Development Berhad CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy and DAP PJ Utara MP Tony Pua should provide some answers to the many allegations involving the company.
He said he fully supported the plan to televise the debate live as it would offer an avenue for the people to know the truth.
“If it is really the truth and answers that Pua and other Opposition members are looking for, then this will be the best time to get it out from 1MDB,” he said.