September 25, 2013
The Indonesian Directorate General of Customs and Excise and the Malaysian Royal Customs Department held their 19th Co-ordinated Customs Patrol (Patkor Kastima) from September 2nd to 15th in Batam, Indonesia.
Indonesia deployed nine patrol vessels with approximately 100 officers for the exercise, while Malaysia contributed seven patrol vessels with 70 officers. The joint patrol will be repeated October 22nd to November 4th in Johor, Malaysia.
A big challenge
Zaelani Akhbar, 35, an Indonesian who lives in Sabah, Malaysia, said tightening the borders of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines is a big challenge.
"There is a police patrol once in a while for the water borders. However, the availability of police officers is not sufficient given the number of cases," he told Khabar Southeast Asia. "Every day, I have heard about drug smuggling, transporting drugs from Malaysia to Indonesia," he said.
"Please keep in mind that those drugs are not necessarily from Malaysia. They can be from other places and transported several times," he said.
Former Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist Ali Fauzi told Khabar that, in his past experience, smuggling weapons around the region was easy. He said he dressed as a migrant worker to cross to Sabah in eastern Malaysia, using a fishing boat in the dark. "You don't need a passport. I didn't carry one. For the security, it is really hard to confirm your ID and your face in the dark," he told Khabar.
"We packed the guns into large backpacks and travelled on fishing boats or petrol tankers heading for Indonesia from the Philippines," he added.
Indonesian Director General of Customs and Excise Agung Kuswandono said joint patrols, which began in 1994, are an essential preventative effort.
"Both countries have responsibilities to address this issue," he told Khabar over the phone.
Agung said he recognizes combatting drug and human trafficking takes dedicated effort from both the origin and destination countries.
"We exchange information with Malaysia. We have similar missions tackling drug and human trafficking. We will enforce laws and ensure that whoever is involved will face justice in court," he said.
Royal Malaysian Customs Director Khazali bin Haji Ahmad said though the geography and various routes used by smugglers pose huge challenges, he is not deterred. "We are also monitoring our airport. At Kuala Lumpur International Airport [KLIA], our customs officers are able to secure drugs smuggled from various countries," he told reporters September 2nd.
Internal and external effort needed
Muhammadiyah University in Malang (UMM) Rector Muhadjir Efendi told Khabar the prevention of drugs in Indonesia must be conducted internally and externally.
"The patrols are considered an external effort," Muhadjir said. "To support this effort, UMM will ensure that all students are free from drugs prior to entering the university."
More than 200 students were rejected this year due to indications of drug consumption, he explained.
"Other internal efforts can be conducted by providing enough rehabilitation facilities," said Anang Iskandar, head of the National Narcotics Agency (BNN).
He said BNN had spent Rp 400 billion ($35m) for a rehabilitation programme that will benefit 27,000 addicts. "This will involve social and medical rehabilitation," Anang told Khabar.