Tuesday, January 03, 2012


Officers make RM5,000 a day

AS our van rolled to a stop in front of the Rantau Panjang security checkpoint near the Malaysian-Thai border, an officer from the General Operations Force (GOF) walked out of the guard post and motioned us to lower the window.
“Sepuluh ringgit, cepat, cepat (RM10, hurry, hurry),” he whispered, extending his hand inside the vehicle and glancing nervously at the other vehicles that had pulled up behind our dilapidated van.

An undercover enforcement officer in the front passenger seat pulled out RM10 and handed it  to the middle-aged GOF officer. He then let us through with a wave of his hand.

Moments later, at another checkpoint — this time,  Customs —  the undercover agent  got out and opened the back door of the van and showed them our illicit cargo of contraband fragrant rice stuffed in pillowcases and other taxable goods.

The payoff this time was RM50 and the methodology involved a bit of sleight-of-hand.

To prevent the drivers of the vehicles behind us from witnessing the transaction, the undercover agent discreetly placed the RM50 on the pile of rice.

The  Customs officer came around and pretended to rummage through the pile of contraband.

The RM50 was deftly swept up in one fluid motion. David Copperfield himself couldn’t have done it better.
Getting through the third round of checks was a breeze as prior arrangements had been made with one of the “bosses” at the Road Transport Department who gave us a “licence to smuggle”.

For RM250, we  got a green sticker that was stuck to the windscreen. This indicated to his men on the ground that we were one of the “untouchables”.

Now in the home stretch, our last hurdle was the Anti-Smuggling Unit checkpoint. True to form, we were let through with  a bribe of only  RM50.

At all the border security checkpoints, we were let through by the various enforcement agencies with no more than a cursory look, a casual nod and a payoff.
It is believed that these officers would rake in anywhere from RM3,000 to RM5,000 a day, depending on the traffic flow.
In an earlier operation to weed out “crooked” enforcers at the Bukit Kayu Hitam checkpoint, they flatly denied any involvement with smuggling syndicates.

One vehemently denied any involvement, saying repeatedly that he had no idea what the undercover officers were talking about. The minute he was shown video evidence, his memory improved immediately.

smuggling illicit goods

An officer at the Malaysian-Thai border accepting a bribe from a driver smuggling illicit goods into Thailand.
 RM250 green sticker
The RM250 green sticker (inset) that was affixed to the windscreen of a van. The sticker ensures a smuggler will not be bothered by RTD officers at the checkpoint.

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