Special workshop held to bolster cooperation among 17 agencies to fight smuggling

Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Minister Datuk Mohd Armizan Ali (second right) presenting a certificate to a representative from the General Operations Force.

KOTA KINABALU: The battle against the misappropriation of subsidised fuel and other controlled goods has been given a shot in the arm thanks to better cooperation between the Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Ministry and 16 other enforcement agencies.

The ministry spearheaded a workshop aimed at coordinating efforts between the agencies to better curb as well as eradicate leakages of controlled items, especially in Sabah and Sarawak.

The agencies were, among others, the police, Customs Department, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Immigration Department, Eastern Sabah Security Command, Sabah Port Authority and Kota Kinabalu City Hall.

Its Minister Datuk Mohd Armizan Ali said the workshop covered various aspects such as logistical needs, security support, information sharing and handover of cases from the agencies to the ministry.

He said improvements to the enforcement mechanisms are vital considering that Sabah and Sarawak would not be involved yet in the re-targeting of the diesel subsidy programme which would only be implemented in the peninsula in the second quarter of this year.

He added that various measures are being carried out to fight the illicit trade of fuel and other essential goods, including the continuation of Ops Tiris.

Ops Tiris is aimed at fighting the misappropriation of subsidised diesel, and auditing custodians of controlled items.

"We will also audit wholesalers, permit holders of controlled goods and exporter companies, among others, so we can see where the sales and items are going to," he told reporters after the workshop here on Thursday (Feb 22).

"With all these efforts, we hope we can carry out the government’s mandate and ensure the limited public funds and subsidies could be channelled to those who need them.

"Our message to smugglers and those colluding with them is for them to find a more honest living than something that is haram (illegal) that only sabotages the country’s economy," Armizan added.

He explained that 15,927 nationwide checks were held at fuel stations, wholesalers and factories, among others, under Ops Tiris 1.0 and 2.0, which were conducted between March 1 to Dec 31, 2023.

"From those inspections, there were 877 cases, including 386 handed over to the ministry by other agencies, where a total 6,441,118 litres of diesel worth RM14.2mil were seized," he said.

At the same time, he said, besides diesel, there were seizures of other items worth RM42.1mil.

He said 668 people, comprising 554 Malaysian citizens, 112 foreigners and two permanent residents, were arrested.

"As for Sabah, there were 1,026 checks, with 32 cases producing seizures of RM1.05mil (of diesel)," Armizan said.

On Ops Tiris 3.0 so far, he said, they have handled 330 cases where diesel worth some RM4.76mil were seized, RON95 petrol (RM90,611), liquefied petroleum gas (RM154,189), cooking oil (RM107,759) and sugar (RM35,737).

He said 65 people were detained for further probe under the Control of Supplies Act 1961 (Act 122).

Towards this end, he called on the public to help in the fight against misappropriation and smuggling by providing information to the authorities.

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