20 smuggling hotspots in Sarawak

He said they have already identified more than 20 areas or outlets in Sarawak as smuggling hotspots.

“We are closely monitoring Sibu, Miri, Bintulu and Kuching,” he added.

On intrusion by foreign fishermen, he said this has caused the government to lose about RM5-6 billion yearly in terms of the fish caught by illegal fishermen.

“We have also caught people who used local fisherman boats to smuggle in illegal items. Recently we caught one boat involving a seizure of RM5 million in contraband cigarettes.

“They used a big boat from Vietnam and then used smaller boats like fisherman boats to go and collect the items. We have identified these ‘transit boats’ as well,” he said.

According to Yusoff, most of the contraband items were from Vietnam, China, Thailand and Indonesia.

Yusoff further said they have appealed to the government to add more assets to the department in the 12th Malaysia Plan to be more effective.

On their overall success, Yusoff said, “Police Marine Region 1 has recorded a total of 648 cases involving RM17.55 million from Jan to July 2019; Region 2 — 795 cases (RM39.31 million); Region 3 — 297 cases (RM18.61 million); and Region 4 — 977 cases and (RM19.66 million), which brings the total number of cases to 3,291 involving confiscation value of RM115.18 million in 2019 alone throughout the
country.”

“If the marine police aren’t doing the job of keeping the smugglers and illegal fishermen at bay, whose job is it then?

“We aim to do a good job, which is why we hope we will get all the support we need from the government to build up our asset.

“We know the smugglers and the criminals are afraid of us, but we need to instil more fear into them to completely discourage them,” Yusoff added.