Friday, May 16, 2008


Lavish lifestyle at refugee camp
Drug peddler stripped of RM222,690 propert deported: Police


He was a settler at the Kinarut Resettlement Area, which is home to an undetermined number of foreigners, hut his lavish lifestyle was in stark contrast to the largely spartan existence of those all around him. With at least RM 222,690 worth of property, this foreigner was much wealthier than most Sabahans, thanks but no thanks to his ill-gotten gains from peddling drugs. The long arm of the law has finally caught up with him, and besides being stripped of his assets acquired with money from the illegal activities, he was deported to his country of origin. The story of this man, which was related by State Narcotics Unit Chief, Superintendent Yap Toon Khuan yesterday, should not come as a big surprise to his fellow settlers as well as locals, for what was originally a refuge for Filipinos fleeing the war in southern Philippines has long been known as a hotbed of criminal activities and has even been described as “the mother of all social problems in Sabah”. Yap said: “The man was one of the residents in the Kinarut Resettlement Area. He was living a lavish life; he had air-conditioned house, good furniture and vehicles; all bought with money made from selling drugs in the last six years.” The man was among five people from the resettlement area charged under the Restricted Residence Act. Two of them are currently detained at PPA Muar, one was sent to PPA Batu Gajah Perak and one to PPA Spg Renggam, Johor. “Although we have succeeded in reducing the number of traffickers and addicts in Kinarut, we are still not satisfied over the situation there,” said Yap. “We have done so many things, and while the situation would see slight improvement after major operations in the area, it would be back to square one after a certain period,” he said. “This is among the dilemmas we are facing and we hope the relevant authorities as well as the public would also play their role to help us eradicate social ills and criminal activities in the resettlement site.” According to Yap, during one of the major operations in the area, many of the people currently living there are renting the houses from original occupants. “We believe the best way to identify these residents is by doing profiling of each person. Today, we do not have a proper record of residents living in the resettlement area,” he said, stressing that such measure would help a lot in eradicating drug abuse in the area. Yap said although the drug situation in Sabah is still under control, he stressed that there is no room for them to be complacent. “Our proximity to neighbouring countries does not help matter and although it is not that obvious, we are doing our level best to prevent the spread of drug abuse in the State,” he said. Yap disclosed that the resettlement area, which was established under the United Nations Commission of Human Rights (UNCHR) in 1983, has 14 blocks of houses marked A to 0, and currently has a population of about 3,066. “Last year alone, we conducted 85 normal operations and one planned operation in the area and a total of 72 people, aged between 18 and 40, were rounded up for involvement in drug abuse,” he said. At least four people were arrested under Section 39A (2) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, which carries death penalty, while under Section 39A (1), a total of four cases were opened following nine arrests. “Overall, we have opened 204 cases and arrested 226 people, among whom 76 were illegal immigrants. We also seized 101.56 grammes of syabu from the Kinarut resettlement area alone, and it was valued at around RM 36,000,” he said. In the first four months this year, the Narcotics Unit bad carried out 31 operations in Kinarut, out of which 86 investigation papers were opened and 94 people arrested. “We however noticed that the number of cases and arrests drops every time after our planned operations,” he said. Based on the Unit’s planning and investigation, as well as tip-offs from the public, they have busted at least eight drug distribution cases, he said.