Date of publication: Jun 3, 2014
Section heading: Main Section
Page number: 021
KUALA LUMPUR: Retail associations are taking the initiative to support Op Outlet by visiting outlets and talking to retailers about the importance of the fight against the distribution of illicit cigarettes.
Petaling Jaya Coffeeshop Association (PJCA) and Association of Muslim Restaurant Operators Malaysia (Presma) have spent time engaging business owners and explaining to them why selling illicit cigarettes was not only against the law, but morally wrong, as the items were unregulated by the government.
PJCA president Cheah Poo Kuang said the association had pledged to support the Customs Department initiative, as it protected the interests of honest retailers in the community.
“Retailers must understand that selling illicit cigarettes is bad for all, as it affects the livelihood of those running legitimate businesses.
“Since (the initiative) began, we have seen that the number of consumers who purchase illicit cigarettes has dropped significantly, which proves that the authorities’ enforcement is a success.
“We hope this awareness campaign will help association members be more aware of the consequences (of distributing illegal cigarettes) and convince them that it is not worth being jailed and fined over.”
He said it was the association’s duty to remind members that selling illicit cigarettes would not bring them profit.
Cheah said illicit cigarettes were also bad for consumers, as they contained unregulated substances that had been reported to be five times more dangerous than those contained in regulated cigarettes.
He said not only was the business transaction illegal, but retailers were providing consumers with dangerous products.
Presma vice-secretary Habeebur Rahman Shahul Hameed echoed Cheah’s sentiment, saying the livelihoods of retailers who ran legitimate businesses were threatened by the sale of illicit cigarettes.
He said the sale of legal cigarettes had gradually increased among association members after the launch of Op Outlet.
Habeebur Rahman said those who thought that selling illicit cigarettes would earn them more profit, as they did not have to pay taxes, were fooling themselves.
“We want association members to abide by the law and we urge them to stop supporting the sale of illicit cigarettes.
“Violating the law can put them at risk of being jailed or fined.”
On Thursday, a sundry shop owner in Tumpat, Kelantan, was fined RM1,000 by the magistrate’s court for selling contraband cigarettes.
Mohamed Jahar Salleh, 53, was also fined another RM600 on a separate charge of possessing a box of fire crackers.
He pleaded guilty to both counts of possessing various brands of cigarettes and kretek, valued at RM53.41, and a box of firecrackers, valued at RM43.20, at the premises of MJS Resources in Kampung Chenderong Batu, Wakaf Bahru, at 2pm on April 28.
Magistrate Ahmad Adha Amir Yasser Amri ordered Jahar to pay a RM1,000 fine or serve 10 months’ jail for the first offence, and a RM600 fine or six months’ jail for the second charge.
Jahar paid the fines. During mitigation, he pleaded for a lighter sentence, telling the court that he had three children, who were still in school, under his care.
Jahar was unrepresented, while Customs Department prosecutor Karthy Gasedev Devarajoo prosecuted.