IN RESPONSE to an article published in a local daily on July 18, 2012 regarding the stringent action against fuel smuggler, I would like to express my displeasure about this. I am one of those whose car has been confiscated in a custom and excise operation at Kuala Lurah immigration post on 7th June 2012. There were about 30 other cars confiscated at that time for the suspected fuel smuggling. I was approached by an officer who told me they will confiscate my car saying: "your fuel meter is near empty". Therefore they assume I was a fuel smuggler who had just come back from selling the fuel in the neighbouring country. He told me my car would be inspected to ascertain whether I have made some illegal modifications whatsoever to accommodate extra fuel.
Now after more than two months, I still can't take back my car. My car has undergone inspection from my car dealer and the Land Transport Department and there is no proof that I had done modifications on my tanks. For numerous times I have to call the relevant authorities and ask why it was taking so long for them to investigate. The answer is frustrating. It is not fun to call the officers when they can easily get irritated, raising their voice and scolding us.
Imagine the stress and trauma I have to face as my car is detained. As we all know, how important a car is in our lives as a mode of transportation.
I have to borrow cars from relatives and friends in order to go to work and send my children to work and school. For weekly basis it may be ok, but for months? Imagine how hard it is. Sometimes my child has to skip school and I have to rent another car in order to make my life easier. But this puts an extra burden on my monthly budget as I am working in the private sector with a low salary. I still have to pay loan instalments for my confiscated car.
How long can I wait? As the officer say "sabar sabar saja menunggu" and "menunggu lagi surat dari jabatan lain tu!!" Is it the best answer they can give? Then how long do I have to wait? Years? Forever? I know it involves a lot of departments but can they just normally do their work instead of delaying?
Is this really what they call the strategic and stringent actions to curb fuel smugglers? On what basis is it strategic? Punishing people for a crime of which they are not convicted? Undergoing long and expensive inspections like sending the car to agent to find out whether the tank is modified or not? Why don't they just use simple and logical approach by just emptying the tank and filling it up to know the capacity. Is it true what is said about this fuel smuggling? That it is carried out by big syndicates and that we are being punished to cover up their acts and show that the authorities are doing their work?
Lastly, one thing I don't really understand. If my car has already undergone inspection, why do they still want to keep it? If it is already inspected and if it is proven that the car has illegal modification, why not just charge me in court? Why must it take two months to investigate and make my life difficult? Now I can't even go to Limbang because the authorities at Kuala Lurah refuse to let me in even when I was just a passenger. It seems to them I have hidden compartments in my body to store gasoline. I may not be well educated but I am really confused with their approach. I would be grateful if someone can explain what is happening to me.
Bandar Seri Begawan
Friday, August 10, 2012
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