SEPANG: Traders who are caught selling illegal cigarettes or liquor may be caned and fined a minimum of RM100,000, if a proposal by the Customs Department is passed in Parliament. Customs director-general Datuk Seri Subromaniam Tholasy said the suggestion has been forwarded to the government, which would see the Customs Act 1967 amended, pending approval by the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC). "We have proposed an amount huge enough to be a deterrent, that is a minimum fine of RM100,000, regardless if the premises only sells one carton of cigarettes or one bottle of liquor. "We have also recommended to the government that offenders be whipped as well," he told a press conference on customs' success at crippling an alcohol processing syndicate, here today. "If the amendment is passed, we believe the sale of contraband, and smuggled cigarettes and liquor can be controlled, due to our punitive action," he added. Asked if the bill for the amendment would be tabled in the next parliament sitting, he voiced uncertainty. Subromaniam explained that at present, those guilty of smuggling contraband items would only be fined not less than 10 times and not more than 20 times the value of the goods. "If the premises sells only one carton, then ten times the value for a fine is just too little. The syndicates will just pay off the fines. But if we increase it to a minimum of RM100,000, who is going to pay?" A similar proposal to raise the fine to RM100,000 was proposed by the Customs Department in April last year, but it is understood that it was not approved by the AGC at the time, who felt the fine was too hefty. On the crippling of the alcohol-processing syndicate, Subromaniam said the department raided a factory in Cheras on Sept 28 and remanded a local 60-year-old man to assist in the investigation. He said the premises was involved in processing fake liquor, including those branded Mandalay, Club 99 and Grand Royal, among which were involved in the recent cases of toxic alcohol poisoning which have killed about 40 people so far. "We also found 650 litres of uncustomed The Sea Special Quality-branded alcohol valued at about RM10,000," he said, adding that the suspect would be probed under the Customs Act 1967, Excise Act 1976 and Law Reform (Eradication of Illicit Samsu) Act 1976. The raid was part of the Customs' "Operasi Gempur" that started on Sept 21 following the laced alcohol cases. To date the department has conducted 1,063 raids and seized 17,374 litres of alcohol.