Motorcycle taxi operator gets 6 months for smuggling liquor

JITRA : A 42-year-old motorcycle taxi operator, who ferries passengers across the Malaysia-Thailand border crossing in Bukit Kayu Hitam, was fined RM100,000 or six months' imprisonment in default for possessing 12 one-litre bottles of illegal liquor when he was stopped at a roadblock in early January.

According to the charge sheet, Mohamad Haniff Ali, from Jalan Datuk Syed Ahmad, Alor Merah in Alor Setar, was apprehended by Border Security Agency (AKSEM) personnel at about 9.20am on Jan 9 on the North-South Expressway in the Kubang Pasu district of Kedah.

He was charged under Section 135(1)(e) of the Customs Act 1967, punishable under Section 135(1)(v)(aa) of the same act with a fine of not less than 10 times the value of the seized items or RM100,000 (whichever is higher) and not more than 20 times the value of the seized items or RM500,000 (whichever is higher) and/or imprisonment of up to five years.

The value of the seized items was RM720.

The case was heard before judge Mohd Hadi Hakimi. When the charge was read to Mohamad Haniff, he nodded and said he understood the charge.

Assistant Superintendent of Customs Che Amran Hassan(right) from Bukit Kayu Hitam Customs enforcement branch and another officer showing two of the seized 12 bottles of Johnnie Walker Black Label outside Jitra Magistrate Court.

Citing the hefty punishment and fine, the magistrate ordered the intrepreter to read the facts of the case again to Mohamad Haniff to make that sure he fully understood the charge.

In mitigation, the accused pleaded for a lower fine and told the court that it was his first offence. 

He added that his wife had passed away six months ago and that he had two children to look after.

State Customs deputy public prosecutor Muhd Ridhauddin Jamaludin prosecuted, while the accused was not represented.

Magistrate Mohd Hadi found the accused guilty and fined him RM100,000 or, in default, six months in jail. He also ordered that the seized items be surrendered to Customs for further action.

Muhd Ridhauddin told the court that the accused's motorcycle and the seized liquor would be forfeited by Customs under Section 127(1) of the Customs Act 1967.

He later told the media the accused, who could not afford to pay the RM100,000 fine, would be sent to the Pokok Sena Jail to serve the six-month jail term.