Uphill task to eliminate ketum leaf smuggling, says police

HAT YAI, Thailand: The elimination of ketum leaf smuggling is turning out to be an uphill task because the racket is believed to be run by organised syndicates on both sides of the common border, according to a Malaysian police officer.

Perlis Police chief Datuk Azisman Alias said that as such there was a need for the police forces of both Thailand and Malaysia to conduct more frequent joint operations against the activity.

"On the Malaysian side, the police and the Border Control Agency are working hard to eliminate the activity," he said when replying to a question from a Thai senior police officer during a discussion on bilateral issues between the Perlis government and the heads of government departments and agencies in the Songkhla province of Thailand at the office of the Songkhla Governor here yesterday.

Perlis Agriculture and Agro-based Industry and Border Cooperation Committee chairman Ahmad Bakri Ali represented Perlis Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azlan Man in heading the Perlis government delegation to the meeting.

The Thai side was led by Songkhla Vice Governor Anuchit Trakulmututa.

The discussions were held in conjunction with the annual border sports meet between Perlis and Songkhla over three days from Wednesday.

The participants competed in soccer, badminton, sepak takraw, golf and bowling.

Azisman said the Malaysian authorities were determined to eliminate smuggling and abuse of ketum leaves which thrived well in the wetlands of Kedah and Perlis.

The Border Control Agency commander, DSP Syed Basri Syed Ali, said the syndicates often changed the smuggling modus operandi and usually carried out the activity at night to avoid detection.

The agency seized about 11,000kg of ketum leaves valued at over RM500,000 between January and August this year, much higher than the 8,000kg seized during the corresponding period last year, he said. — Bernama