Border dispute causes temporary closure

17 Feb 2019 / 19:08 H.

PETALING JAYA: A dispute over the cross-border commute led to a temporary disruption at a frontier checkpoint between Malaysia and Thailand this morning.

Thai motor-taxi drivers were barred from ferrying their passengers to Malaysia through the Bukit Kayu Hitam-Sadao main border crossing by personnel of the General Operations Force (GOP) at about 11.30am.

In retaliation, the motor-taxi drivers withdrew to the Thai side of the border and pulled the gate shut, thus sealing off the entry point and preventing access into the kingdom.

The GOP explained that the move to bar the motor-taxis was part of a move to enhance the security checks in the area, which is often used as a point of entry for the smuggling of goods across the border.

Senior officers from the GOP — Deputy Supt Wan Salin and D Company platoon head Asst Supt Rosdi Ghani — who rushed to the scene, managed to persuade the Thai motor-taxi drivers to re-open the gate after about 15 minutes.

The Malaysian authorities have given an assurance that discussions would be held with the motor-taxi drivers to find a secure passage into Malaysia.

A no-man’s land separates the two countries. There is a fence on the Thai side of the border but on the Malaysian side, which is about 800m away, there are only the immigration and customs checkpoints.

The motor-taxis operate inside the no-man’s land where a duty-free emporium and a large car park are located. They usually ferry passengers from Thailand to the edge of the no-man’s land from where the passengers can walk the short distance to the Malaysian immigration checkpoint.

A police spokesman said the issue has been resolved for now but the grievances of the motor-taxi drivers would have to be looked into.

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