Thai ‘kereta sapu’ plying trade openly

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 23 Feb 2020

PADANG BESAR: Not only do they behave like thugs, “kereta sapu” (pirate taxi) operators from southern Thailand, bent on expanding their operations here, are thumbing their noses at local enforcement authorities.

A month of investigative work found that these illegal operators appear to be immune to local laws and ply their trade in the open.

An operator, who wished to be known only as “Mat”, claimed that enforcement vehicles could not catch up with them because their vans were much faster.

“Depa tak mampu nak ligan kami (They cannot catch up) unless they use faster vehicles,” he said.

Mat also said that even if they were caught by Road Transport Department (JPJ) personnel, they do not need to worry much because the compound for not having an International Circulation Permit (ICP) was only RM150.

“We just have to pay the fine and then it is business as usual,” he said.

Mat said they pick up passengers not only in Perlis but even in places such as Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Alor Setar and Seremban.

He said they would also transport Thai workers from these places to the Padang Besar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex to have their social visit passes renewed.

“The fare is set at RM140 per passenger for a return trip. Each van can take in 14 passengers per trip and we can earn up to RM1,960. It is very lucrative,” he said.

Another operator, who wanted to be known as Mohamad, 21, from Pattani, said he preferred to use a van because it was cheaper and faster.

Mohamad, who also works as a cook at a Thai restaurant in Seremban, said the business of getting the passengers’ passports stamped was done by the driver and a middleman.

Perlis Immigration director Basri Othman denied that Thais were entering Malaysia illegally. He said they come in like normal tourists with their passports stamped.

“We have carried out enforcement operations and will only make an arrest if they (Thais) do not have valid travel documents.

“As to the vehicles crossing the border, the immigration laws do not cover this as it comes under the jurisdiction of the JPJ.

“But I do not deny the possibility of forged passport stamps or help from the inside. Investigations are under way,” he said.

Perlis JPJ director Fatimah Mohamed Ali Piah said there would be no compromise on Thai vehicles that enter and leave the country but fail to heed Malaysian road transport laws and regulations.

“We pay attention to the entry points from Thailand in Perlis namely at Wang Kelian and Padang Besar to ensure everyone follows the laws.

“There are many who do not see what we are doing because we take the approach of conducting patrols to catch offenders and less static operations because this method (patrols) is more effective,” she said.

Fatimah said last year, action was taken against 586 foreign vehicles for breaking the country’s laws.

She said the highest number involved abusing the ICP at 482 cases and that enforcement would be stepped up this year.

“As at Jan 22, 51 summonses were issued to vehicles from Thailand and 41 of them were for abusing the ICP,” she added.

Fatimah also denied claims by Thai “pirate van” operators that there were JPJ officers who solicited bribes to let them off.

“I will not hesitate to take action against any JPJ personnel found taking bribes,” she said. — Bernama
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kereta sapu , pirate taxi , Thailand


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