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Malaysian Border Patrols Intensify Amid Surge in Fuel Smuggling Operations

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A sleek speedboat from the Thai Customs Department slices through the waters of the Kolok River, patrolling the boundary between Thailand’s Narathawat and Malaysia’s Kelantan state on a bright May 29th. The mission is clear: thwart smuggling operations that rampant along this notorious border. (Photo: Wassayos Ngamkham)

In response to an uptick in gasoline smuggling and the shrewd adjustments in smugglers’ tactics, Malaysia has amplified its surveillance measures across all states sharing a frontier with Thailand. The Malaysian administration has called upon all gasoline stations within Kelantan, Perak, Kedah, and Perlis to keep a vigilant eye on sedans and other modified vehicles making suspicious, repeated purchases of RON95—a specific grade of petrol unique to Malaysia.

As reported by Bernama and the New Straits Times on Thursday, Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Minister Armizan Mohd Ali emphasized, “We hope they will cooperate and assist the ministry in tracking down motorists who utilize modified four-wheel vehicles and sedans to smuggle diesel and RON95.” His words carry the weight of a serious call to action as these new regulations aim to curb the escalating problem.

The imperative for this vigilant oversight arose when Malaysian authorities spotted a rising trend in fuel smuggling, notably petrol, starting earlier this year. The increase was particularly stark at key checkpoints across the four border states. Armizan disclosed that the smugglers have ingeniously shifted their focus from diesel to gasoline, cunningly outfitting sedans with modified tanks to enhance their petrol-carrying capacity. This complicated detection, making it all the more crucial for law enforcement to stay a step ahead.

The minister noted that the Road Transport Department will rigorously inspect all suspected vehicles for hidden modifications. This revelation underscores the Malaysian government’s commitment to cracking down on the illegal fuel trade. According to the latest data, RON95 petrol sells for 2.05 ringgit per litre in Malaysia—equivalent to 15.87 baht—significantly cheaper than benzene 95 in Thailand, which costs a hefty 45 baht per litre. The substantial price difference undoubtedly fuels the incentive for such smuggling operations.

Minister Armizan made these critical announcements while inspecting the volatile border area opposite Thailand’s Tak Bai district in Narathiwat on Thursday. His presence there highlighted the government’s immediate and ongoing efforts to tackle this complex issue head-on.

Against this backdrop of intensified border control, it’s clear that both nations are locked in an intricate dance to outmaneuver the smuggling networks. With law enforcement becoming more sophisticated and vigilant, one can only hope that the illegal trade of petrol and diesel will soon cease, ensuring a more secure and regulated border area. The story of the Kolok River patrol is but one chapter in this evolving saga of cross-border vigilance and cooperation.


  1. Sam Wells June 7, 2024

    It’s high time Malaysia tightened its borders. Fuel smuggling is a crime that needs serious attention!

    • Joe June 7, 2024

      Yeah, but do you really think border patrols can completely stop it? These smugglers are always one step ahead.

      • Kelly Martin June 7, 2024

        Joe is right. It’s a game of cat and mouse. We need better technology, not just more patrols.

    • Sam Wells June 7, 2024

      Agreed, Kelly. But at least it’s a start. They have to do something.

  2. JennyA24 June 7, 2024

    The real issue here is the price difference between the countries. As long as it’s so high, smuggling will continue.

    • Alex June 7, 2024

      Good point. Maybe they should work on leveling fuel prices regionally.

    • BTwisper June 7, 2024

      That sounds like wishful thinking. National policies and economies are too different for that.

  3. Larry D June 7, 2024

    Why doesn’t Malaysia just increase the patrol budget and throw more resources at it? Seems like a no-brainer.

    • Tina L June 7, 2024

      Resource allocation isn’t that simple, Larry. There are other pressing issues that need funding too.

    • Larry D June 7, 2024

      But it’s in their economic interest to stop smuggling. The money saved on subsidies could be huge.

  4. Amanda S June 7, 2024

    It’s interesting that they caught on to the modified sedans. Smugglers are getting really creative.

  5. Bushido24 June 7, 2024

    This is just another case of putting a band-aid on a bigger issue. Governments need to address the root cause!

    • Helen June 7, 2024

      And what exactly is the root cause according to you?

    • Bushido24 June 7, 2024

      Obviously the economic disparities between these countries. Solve that, solve the smuggling problem.

  6. Carlos June 7, 2024

    Don’t forget the environmental impact. Smuggling tends to ignore all safety and environmental regulations.

    • Diana June 7, 2024

      That’s a good point, Carlos. We often overlook environmental concerns in these debates.

  7. Rick June 7, 2024

    I wonder if these new regulations will really be effective or just push smugglers to find new methods.

  8. Pamela J June 7, 2024

    I live near the Kelantan border and I can tell you, it’s a daily issue. You wouldn’t believe the things people do to smuggle fuel.

  9. grower134 June 7, 2024

    This is the only way to tackle it. Higher patrols and stricter penalties.

    • Micheal June 7, 2024

      Agreed. If the risk is higher than the reward, smuggling will decrease.

  10. Lucy June 7, 2024

    Totally skeptical that this will have long-term effects. We’ve seen crackdowns before, and they never last.

    • Tom June 7, 2024

      Yes, but this time they seem more committed. Only time will tell.

  11. Rita Patel June 7, 2024

    I’m concerned about the socioeconomic impact on local communities. What happens to people when their livelihood depends on smuggling?

    • Kay V June 7, 2024

      Right? The government needs to provide economic alternatives or this problem will just keep shifting.

    • Rita Patel June 7, 2024

      Exactly, Kay. It’s not just about enforcement, but also about support and education.

  12. Marcus89 June 7, 2024

    Are we really surprised smugglers are this sophisticated? It’s a no-brainer if you look at the money involved.

  13. Elisa June 7, 2024

    The risk is that higher patrols might lead to more aggressive criminal activity. Desperation makes people dangerous.

  14. Jazzmine S. June 7, 2024

    Borders will always be porous as long as there’s economic disparity. This is a temporary fix, at best.

    • Oliver June 7, 2024

      I partially agree. But a temporary fix can buy time to figure out longer-lasting solutions.

  15. Nathan K June 7, 2024

    This feels like Malaysia just wanting to show they’re doing something rather than making real change.

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