Five in alleged protection racket remanded

PUTRAJAYA: Five individuals, including four enforcement officers from the Shah Alam City Council (MBSA), have been remanded for a week as graft busters look into allegations that certain enforcement authorities could be on the take from illegal businesses in Sungai Buloh.

The suspects, arrested in a special operation yesterday, were brought before Magistrate Shah Wira Abdul Halim, who allowed an application by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to remand the officers, aged between 41 and 45, until Aug 18.

Also remanded was a 44-year-old trader, a foreigner.

According to sources, the suspect is a cigarette smuggler who is here without a valid document.

It is learnt that the man, who has been operating since 2019, is believed to have been paying certain officials around RM300 a month to avoid action.

The remand of the five may just be the beginning as the MACC has not ruled out more arrests.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin also assured that action would be taken against those involved in protecting illegal businesses.

Meanwhile, Shah Alam Deputy Mayor Mohd Rashidi Ruslan declined to field questions on why the council had failed to nip the problem in the bud in regards to illegal stalls and gambling dens in the commercial area of Bandar Baru Sungai Buloh.

“We will leave it to MACC to decide what to do with them, ” said Mohd Rashidi.

Reading from a prepared statement, he said that MBSA was willing to commit and work with MACC to ensure the council’s integrity was not compromised.

“We will ensure that MACC can carry out immediate investigations on abuse of power by council officers in regards to enforcement in the Sungai Buloh area, ” he said.

He also refused to comment further about the alleged inefficiencies highlighted in the social media post by Mohd Asri Hamid, 42, or “Asri Janggut”, on Facebook, whose burger stalls were confiscated by MBSA after he ignored repeated warnings to move.

Dissatisfied with the council’s action, Mohd Asri, who was operating illegally opposite a coffee shop in Jalan Perusahaan 2 in Bandar Baru Sungai Buloh, posted videos of other stalls, including a gambling den in the vicinity, claiming that no action were taken against them.

Following strong public criticism arising from the post, MBSA launched a joint raid with the police, Customs, Immigration, Air Selangor, Tenaga Nasional Bhd and the council’s Health, Building and Enforcement departments in the Bandar Baru Sungai Buloh commercial area to demolish illegal structures and weed out foreign workers and hawkers operating without a licence in the area yesterday.

During the raid, it was found that the stalls mentioned by Mohd Asri and others operating illegally in the back lanes were already demolished.

“Only eight stalls are now left. They are operating along Jalan 1A/3 which is a temporary hawker site designated by MBSA. In fact, the council has offered Asri a spot at the site before this but he rejected the offer, ” said Mohd Rashidi.

Police also discovered an upstairs room which was barred by a locked door. Upon breaking it down, it was deduced that this was another illegal gambling area but reserved for high rollers.

In his statement, Mohd Rashidi pointed out that from January this year, the council had taken action against 25 stalls run by foreigners who were operating without a business licence.

Of these, 19 which were located in Bandar Baru Sungai Buloh were confiscated.

The joint operation also involved the demolition of illegal renovations such as ramps, partition walls, floor extensions and awnings in factories and shoplots that were built without approval from the council.

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