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Malaysia: Border Security Agency Act Comes into Force

(Jan. 11, 2018) On December 29, 2017, the Malaysian Border Security Agency Act 2017 came into force. (Malaysian Border Security Agency Act 2017 (Act 799) (AKSEM Act), e-Federal Gazette website; Hashini Kavishtri Kannan, All-New AKSEM Act Comes into Force Today, NEW STRAITS TIMES (Dec. 29, 2017).) The Act, which was passed by the Parliament in August 2017, establishes a new agency, the Malaysian Border Security Agency (Agensi Kawalan Sempadan Malaysia, AKSEM), which will be “responsible for curbing smuggling and other illegal activities along the country’s land borders.” (Kannan, supra; AKSEM Act s 3(2).) This agency will be overseen by a High Level Committee chaired by the Minister of Home Affairs and made up of other government ministers and senior officials from various agencies, and its activities will be coordinated by a Coordinating Committee. (AKSEM Act ss 5-10.)

AKSEM will absorb the existing Anti-Smuggling Unit (Unit Pencegahan Penyeludupan, UPP), which is a “loose set-up involving cooperation between several agencies including the police, immigration, Customs and the Road Transport Department.” (Id. s 30; Malaysia Sets Up New Agency to Target Smuggling, STRAITS TIMES (Oct. 25, 2016).) During the debate in the Parliament, the Deputy Prime Minister said that all 933 UPP personnel would be redeployed along with General Operations Force personnel to comprise an AKSEM force of 10,800, avoiding any need to create new posts or incur new costs. (Parliament Passes Malaysia Border Control Agency Bill, NEW STRAITS TIMES (Aug. 10, 2017).) Under the Act, border protection will ”involve the cooperation of five agencies, namely the police, the Immigration Department, the Royal Customs Department, national Anti-Drug Agency and the national Kenaf and Tobacco Board.” (Id.)

According to reports, the new agency will target the “illegal movement of cars, sugar, oil and even cooking gas tanks out of the country. The smuggling occurs mainly along the Thai border and from Sabah into Kalimantan, and there is also smuggling of goods into Singapore, officials say. Cheaper Thai rice, meanwhile, is smuggled into Malaysia, along with guns and drugs. Human trafficking rings are also active along the border, which is more than 600km [373 miles] long.” (Malaysia Sets Up New Agency to Target Smuggling, supra.)