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Customs men to be armed
Published on: Friday, February 14, 2014

Kota Kinabalu: Customs enforcement officers will carry firearms from now to protect themselves when they go after smugglers of contraband like cigarettes and liquor.

Customs Deputy Director-General (Enforcement and Compliance) Datuk Matrang Suhaili said there are risks faced by his officers, although such incidents are not serious in Sabah.

"In the peninsula we have received threats via telephone, some have been threatened face to face," he said, citing an incident where a top Customs official was gunned down by unknown persons on his way to the office in Putrajaya.

"In Sabah, a majority of contraband cigarette peddlers are immigrants who simply flee to their respective countries after hurting our enforcers. Thus, we are not taking any chances when it comes to our safety," he told a media conference after launching the joint Customs-City Hall Ops Pacak 3 here, Thursday.

Matrang said there is no compromise when it comes to contraband cigarette peddling issues where, unlike previously, enforcement officers would simply give stern warnings and issue compounds to offenders.

"This time with enough evidence we will bring such offenders to court but before that, we will apply to the Magistrate for them to be remanded," he said.

Matrang said they will also increase their presence with more patrols in identified areas as part of curbing such activities through the Blue Ocean Strategy which calls for cooperation among all departments.

Also present were State Customs Director Datuk Janathan Kandok, his Deputy Director (Enforcement and Compliance) Hamzah Sundang, City Hall Operations Deputy Chief Director Joannes Solidau and Deputy City Police Chief Supt M. Chandra.

Meanwhile, Mayor Datuk Abidin Madingkir said City Hall is in the midst of discussion with the government together with police, to install closed circuit television cameras (CCTV) in the city as part of initiatives to curb such activities.

"We have identified 24 locations in the Central Business District which we think is appropriate to be installed with the CCTV, perhaps by this year," said Madingkir, naming Inanam and Menggatal among locations where contrabands are widely sold.

"We also thank the Customs Department for this joint effort. We are only limited to confiscating goods which does not have permit but the Customs Department would provide more impact particularly under the Customs Act," he said.

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