BUTTERWORTH: The Royal Malaysian Customs is appealing to all Asean countries to set up joint operations to combat smuggling activities which are getting rampant.
Its director-general Datuk Seri T. Subromaniam said he would put a proposal to the Customs Enforcement and Compliance Working Group (CECWG) during a meeting to be chaired by Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur next month.
He said the close cooperation between the Indonesian Customs and Malaysian Customs since 1994 had been successful in cracking down smuggling, including in drugs.
“If both these countries can collaborate on this matter, I do not see why other Asean countries can’t.
“Malaysia will propose to Asean for a similar cooperation like with Indonesia and if successful, it should help crack down on the smuggling of drugs and cigarettes,” he said.
Subromaniam was speaking at a press conference after opening the "Operasi Patkor Kastima Siri 24A/2018" at the Customs Complex in Seberang Jaya near here on Wednesday (Sept 19).
Also present were Indonesian Customs and Excise Department director-general Heru Pambudi, Malaysian Customs deputy director-general Datuk Seri Zulkifli Yahya (Enforcement and Compliance) and Penang Customs director Datuk Saidi Ismail.
The Malaysian Customs and its Indonesian counterpart will take part in a joint exercise involving 226 officers — 85 from Malaysia and 141 from Indonesia.
The operation comprises 21 ships and high-powered boats, with 12 from Malaysia and nine from Indonesia.
Heru told reporters that the joint patrolling this time will not only be held along the Straits of Melaka, but will be extended between Kalimantan and Sarawak following a drastic increase in drug smuggling activities in the area.
“We want to send a message to the smuggling syndicates that we are hot on their heels,” he added.
Subromaniam noted that the smuggling of drugs into the country had increased tremendously.
Last year, less than a metric tonne of drugs were seized. But 2.77 metric tonnes of drugs have been seized in just the first nine months of this year.
On the Sales and Service Tax (SST), he said three weeks had passed since its re-introduction and it is running smoothly.
“The Customs Department is ready to help business operators facing any confusion or problems with implementing the SST collection.
“We have a call centre that is operated till midnight and they can call 1300 888 500.
“We also have a crisis centre and hotlines to assist them. Consumers who have issues with prices can call the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry’s enforcement unit,” he said.
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