BANGKOK: Malaysian Authorities have stepped up their crackdown on smuggling of subsidised cooking oil into southern Thailand just for profit.
The smuggled goods are displayed openly at stalls in a market that straddles the border between Wang Kelian in Malaysia’s Perlis state and Wang Prachan in Satun province, according to The New Straits Times. The oil is sold at 9 ringgit (83 baht) for 2 kilogrammes and 17 ringgit (156 baht) for 5 kilogrammes, compared with 5 ringgit and 13 ringgit for the same quantities in Malaysia.
Thai consumers prefer Malaysian cooking oil because it is cheaper than local products which cost between 92 and 102 baht for 2kg and 184 baht for 5kg, the newspaper reported.Recent heavy rains and floods have reduced oil palm output to an eight-year low in Malaysia and southern Thailand. The Thai government recently approved imports of crude palm oil to head off the possibility of a domestic shortage of cooking oil.Authorities told The New Straits Times that Malaysians were hired by a syndicate to smuggle the goods over the border.
These tentera semut (ant soldiers) who travel with up to 10kg of subsidised cooking oil are claiming that the goods are meant for relatives living in Thailand. “We have been stepping up measures and carrying out more operations on vehicles at the border checkpoints as well as at the trading areas at the border towns here — Wang Kelian and Padang Besar,” said Syed Basri Syed Alierlis, deputy superintendent of the Smuggling-Prevention Unit in Perlis state.
“Every vehicle passing the checkpoint will be thoroughly inspected to ensure that no controlled supplies are smuggled out of or into the country. “He said his team recently managed to foil separate attempts to smuggle 4,700kg of subsidised cooking oil worth 13,143 ringgit into Thailand when it inspected a lorry and a car at the checkpoints and in Padang Besar town. However, others smuggle smaller quantities of cooking oil to avoid detection and it is sold openly in Thai markets.