It is disgraceful to witness traders and businesses cheating on subsidised fuel, especially during these tough times for the people and the government.
The case of a petrol station co-owner who was slapped with a court fine of RM100,000 comes to mind. The culprit had sold over 2,000 litres of government-subsidised diesel to a trading company. The diesel was filled in several drums on two lorries from the trading company before enforcement officers moved in.
We may never know for how long and how many more drums of diesel the petrol station had sold before the owner was caught.
And we will also never know how many other cheats are still robbing us and the government.
Such unscrupulous acts will eventually weaken the nation if nothing is done.
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The sale of diesel in drums is not allowed under the Control of Supplies Regulations 1974 and yet, this businessperson violated the law blatantly.
And the buyer too (not sure if he or she was charged too) bought the fuel knowing well what the law states. It is a clear case of a buyer and seller involved in committing the crime.
The Control of Supplies Act 1961 provides for a maximum fine of RM1m or imprisonment of three years or both. A second or subsequent offence is subject to a fine of up to RM3m or a maximum imprisonment of five years or both.
The deputy public prosecutor from the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Cost of Living requested a heavy sentence as a lesson.
The seller, however, got off with a fine of RM100,000.
Not only does the government suffer huge losses in such cases but aid for the people through subsidised fuel is being misappropriated by irresponsible parties.
Crimes like these add up to large sums of subsidies needlessly given out every year.
When cheats flout the law blatantly, they should feel the full brunt of the penalties provided for under the law.
I believe even first-time offenders in such cases should be dealt with firmly because they have wilfully cheated the government and the people.
If culprits are treated too leniently, then the deterrent factor of the law is lost.
Let’s be serious in ensuring that businesses uphold the law. Let’s deter business people and traders from stealing subsidies that rightfully belong to the people.