Malaysian subsidised cooking oil easily available in Siamese towns

WANG KELIAN: Weak management control and lax enforcement are the main factors fuelling the easy smuggling of subsidised cooking oil from Malaysia into a neighbouring country.

Apart from organised smuggling syndicates, it is understood 'ant soldiers' are also making as many as four to five trips daily, transporting small quantities of the commodity on each trip.

A Bernama check at Wang Prachan (Siamese town) here found four brands of cooking oil, namely Bagus, Avena, Roda Terbang and Burung Kuning being sold widely and openly in 1kg packets in the town.

Only the Burung Kuning brand has 'For Export' stamped on the packets while the rest have 'for household use and not for export' printed stickers on them.

The RM2.50 1kg Malaysian subsidised cooking oil packets are being sold at between RM3.50 and RM4 (32 to 35 bahts) while the 5kg bottles are priced at RM22 or about 200 baht each.

There was a similar situation in Padang Besar. Apart from being sold openly in shops, shopkeepers were also telling the people they were free to buy any quantity they wanted.

According to sources, it was normal for subsidised oil to be brought in, in small quantities as smuggler groups were familiar with the enforcement officers at the border, making it easy for them to commute between the two countries.

A source who declined to be named, singled out humane reason and the involvement of organised syndicates in corruption as to why the authorities were not taking any action.

He said another modus operandi to smuggle the commodity was via illegal or secret passages.

The recent shortage of 1kg cooking oil packets in the market had prompted the authorities to restrict purchase of 1kg packets to two packets per person.

Retailers in Wang Kelian said recently, it had been quite difficult for them to obtain supply of subsidised cooking oil from Malaysia, including the 5kg bottles.

"Nowadays, we need to get together and place our order in bulk to get better discount for the 1kg subsidised oil, unlike the price of 5kg bottles which remains the same," said a retailer who declined to be named.

He said a supplier in Perlis would deliver the goods directly to one of the group members for distribution to the others, while refusing to reveal how the commodity was brought into Wang Prachan.

Meanwhile, Perlis Customs and Excise Department director Datuk Kamarudin Jaafar when contacted by Bernama, said customs officers on duty at entry points had been directed to seize any amount of cooking oil being taken out of the country. — Bernama