SANDAKAN - Local authorities have issued a warning that those found selling illicit products like smuggled cigarettes and liquor will have their business licences revoked.
Large amounts of contraband goods are smuggled into Sabah and the country each year, raising grave concerns not only over the loss of revenue but also the harm to health, said Sandakan Municipal Council president Datuk James Wong.
"The trade in illicit goods also threatens national security as the syndicates may be financing other criminal acts, such as human trafficking, child kidnapping and drug trafficking," he said.
Wong said the council's Anti-Illicit Goods Campaign launched last month was to curb this menace.
Errant retailers would risk having their shop rental agreements terminated while the illicit goods found in their premises would be seized, he added.
This move by the council has the support of the Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (Presma); the Malaysian Indian Restaurant Owners Association (Primas); and Malaysia-Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors General Association.
"We hope that other municipal councils will do the same to protect honest retailers and the safety of consumers and the community," said Presma president Noorul Hassan Saul Hameed.
Primas president T. Muthusamy said the move might seem radical but it was necessary to protect the livelihood of honest retailers.
"If retailers abuse their licence, they do not have anyone to blame if they lose their permit," he added.
Malaysia-Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors General Association president Ho Su Mong said previously, the war against trade in illicit products, especially cigarettes and alcohol, was only led by the Customs Department.
"This is the first time we are witnessing the fight being championed by a municipal council," he said.