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By Wendy John
SIBU, Feb 16: The Sibu Royal Malaysian Customs Department (JKDM) seized 964 litres of ‘arak langkau’ worth RM262,547.86 including unpaid tax from an illegal factory at Jalan Hulu Durin here on Feb 12.
The authorities also seized raw materials estimated at 35,700 litres, and various tools, ingredients and equipment including sugar, sugar cane, yeast, gas stoves and oil drums used as barrels to ferment and process the illegal fermented rice wine.
The liquor, raw materials and brewing paraphernalia were seized and taken to the Sibu JKDM enforcement office as evidence.
According to Sarawak Customs Director Datuk Sharifah Halimah Tuanku Taha in a press statement today, the Land Operations Unit and Marine Unit, Enforcement Branch and JKDM Sibu Industrial Unit raided the residential premises housing the factory at about 1.30pm and arrested a local man to assist in the investigation.
Based on prior intelligence, the team located a hut about 150 metres behind the house which served as the factory. The factory had been operating without a licence under the Excise Act 1976.
Sharifah Halimah also revealed that the factory was processing the liquour for the local market and used its location to avoid detection by the authorities.
The case is being investigated under Sections 74 and 75 of the Excise Act 1976 for the manufacture of white wine and possession of wine-making equipment without permit.
Upon conviction, for the first offence, the offender may be fined not less than ten times the amount of the custom duty and not more than twenty times the amount of the duty, or be imprisoned for a term not exceeding three years or both.
Members of the public are urged to provide information to the authorities on any smuggling activities such as those involving cigarettes, liquor, firecrackers, drugs or firearms by contacting the Customs Department toll-free line at 1-800-88-8855, their website at http://aduan.customs.gov.my or any nearby Customs office in all states. The identity of informants will be kept confidential. — DayakDaily