ALOR SETAR: The presence of General Operations Force (GOF) personnel was quite visible as they manned the front control post and several observation points along the Malaysian-Thai border in Bukit Kayu Hitam.
It is understood that there are about 23 front control posts from the Bukit Kayu Hitam GOF tactical base to Padang Besar.
With a large selection of affordable goods which include liquor, chocolate and cigarettes, Bukit Kayu Hitam was once a must-visit shopping haven for tourists.
Today, it looks like a ghost town.
Business had been badly affected since the movement control order was implemented and a recent shooting had further dampened the atmosphere in this border town.A check by The Star found that all the shops and bazaars were empty and the duty-free shopping complex was completely deserted, while the roads were void of traffic even though it was the holiday season.
The usually busy Bukit Kayu Hitam Immigration, Customs,
Quarantine and Security (ICQS) complex was also deserted with only a few cars and lorries spotted in the vicinity.
GOF Northern Brigade commander Senior Asst Comm Abdul Ghani Mohamad Ji said investigation found that there were still smuggling attempts of ketum leaves despite intensified control along the 105.9km border.
“Recently, our police air unit detected a suspicious-looking vehicle near Chuping, but the two suspects scrambled to escape after stumbling upon our security personnel, ” he said.
SAC Abdul Ghani said the two suspects were believed to be on their way to drop off the ketum leaves at several locations near
electric poles for other parties to collect before being smuggled to Thailand.
He said police believed that the syndicate members were desperate to ensure that their contraband items were smuggled and sold to their customers.
SAC Abdul Ghani was met by members of the media at POS PB11 along the Malaysian-Thai border recently after he accompanied Kedah police deputy chief Datuk Mohd Roze Shaari to visit the border.
He added that police had also increased their patrol along the national border from Bukit Batu Putih in Kuala Perlis to Bukit Kayu Hitam, Kedah, following the shooting incidents in the area.
He said control and patrol were carried out in an integrated approach by more than 300 members of the GOF Batalion 3 as well as additional 200 personnel from the police air unit, armoured vehicle cavalry unit and VAT 69 commandos.
It was reported that a GOF member from Bukit Kayu Hitam escaped serious injury after he was shot while on duty at the border.
The bullet was said to have grazed Lans Koperal Muhammad Amirul Amir’s abdomen in the Nov 15 incident.
Lans Koperal Amirul, 26, is from Company B Battalion 3 PGA Bidor
In another incident, Sarjan Baharuddin Ramli, 54, was killed while his partner Sarjan Norihan Tari, 39, was seriously injured in a shootout with smugglers along the border with Thailand in Padang Besar.
The GOF is the light infantry arm of the Royal Malaysia Police.