KUALA PERLIS – The sound of motorcycle engines revving, breaking the early morning silence almost daily, has raised concern among residents of Kampung Wai, here, lately, over whether the village has become a new ‘transit route’ for smuggling of ketum to neighbouring countries.
It is believed that the smugglers had to find an alternative route, that is, via sea, to continue their illegal activity following the government’s implementation of ‘Op Benteng’, a special operation under the National Task Force starting May 1, to tighten control at the border.
A villager who wished to be known as Pak Zain, 58, is worried about his safety as there have been suspicious vehicles passing through the village, especially in the early morning or late at night. He has been living alone since his wife passed away five years ago.
The rubber tapper nearly met with an accident a week ago when his motorcycle skidded while trying to avoid a speeding car, believed to be driven by a smuggler. At that time, Pak Zain was heading to his rubber holding located one kilometre away from his house.
“I was lucky. Had I fallen into the monsoon drain by the roadside, who would help me? It was 5 o’clock in the morning,” he told Bernama.
A kuih seller who wanted to be known as Mak Ngah, 48, said she got up at 4 am every day to prepare the kuih and often heard noises from afar.
“When I took a peek outside, there were a number of youths riding motorcycles carrying white sacks. Some people said they were transporting ketum leaves to the illegal jetty as their source of income,” she said.
Meanwhile, Kangar district police chief, Supt Wari Kiew said police were intensifying operations to combat ketum smuggling together with the Malaysian Border Security Agency, Marine Department, General Operations Force, Customs Department and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.
“Since August, we have seized 9,643 kg of ketum, 12 cars, two four-wheel-drive vehicles, two motorcycles and six boats believed to be used in the smuggling activities.
“We also arrested 24 suspects and they will be charged in court under Section 30(3) of the Poisons Act 1952, punishable under Section 30(5) of the same act, which carries a fine of not more than RM10,000 or up to four years’ jail or both,” he said.
Wari said the authorities believed that Kuala Perlis had been made a new transit route to smuggle ketum following the stern action taken at other locations in the state.