MMEA to beef up patrols during Ramadan, Raya period to curb smuggling

Lahad Datu MMEA personnel showing the seized items.

KOTA KINABALU: Maritime authorities will be intensifying efforts to curb smuggling of essential items out of the country in the run-up to Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

This was said by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Authority (MMEA) which added that it is anticipating a surge in demands for subsidised goods during this period.

“We expect smuggling activities of subsidised items to be more active during Ramadan and Syawal due to higher demand,” Lahad Datu MMEA director Dr Suzanna Razali Chan said in a statement on Tuesday (March 26).

“Hence, the Lahad Datu MMEA will step up patrols and checks on vessels, especially those in hotspot areas in Lahad Datu waters (in Sabah’s east coast) to curb such activities,” she added.

She said the latest smuggling attempt they managed to thwart took place at 0.4 nautical miles south of Tanjung Batu, Felda Sahabat early Tuesday.

The boat that was abandoned by a smuggler.The boat that was abandoned by a smuggler.

“This was the second case of smuggling of essential items during Ramadan in Lahad Datu waters within a week,” she said.

During the incident, Suzanna said her men had earlier spotted a boat, which bore no registration number, that was headed out to open sea following a public tip-off at 4am.

When the MMEA vessel approached the boat, the skipper suddenly changed the boat’s course and instead headed for land before the individual jumped into the sea and escaped.

“After a check on the boat, we found 612kg of cooking oil, 108 packets of wheat flour, and 192 bottles of perfume which we suspect were being smuggled to a neighbouring country.

“We also seized the items as well as the boat which were worth some RM20,000,” she said, adding the probe has been framed under the Control of Supplies Act 1961.

Suzanna urged the public - particularly the maritime community in Lahad Datu - to assist the authorities by reporting any suspicious or criminal activities at sea.

She said the people could contact the Lahad Datu MMEA operations centre at 089-885727 or the 24-hour Malaysian Emergency Response Services (MERS) 999 number.

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Smuggling , MMEA , Lahad Datu , Ramadan , Intensify


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