New team at PERBEKAS

The writer is 3rd from the left while the new president, Dato’ Abdul Rahman Manan, is 5th from the left

by Dato’ Syed Ahmad Idid

Recently I attended the triennial meeting of PERBEKAS or the Former Customs Officers Association of Malaysia in Kelana Jaya.

The Persatuan Bekas Kastam Malaysia’s triennial meeting along with health-checks and wellness sessions and a Hari Raya Aidilfitri lunch were attended by about 300 persons comprising 200 members with their wives (or in a few cases, their husbands).

It was a happy gathering as many came to meet their old comrades who served in their respective stations and states.

I tried to look for my contemporaries but sadly it was indeed difficult to spot someone from my era. I looked around but those who served in Kedah, Perlis, Penang and Perak during the years mid-1960s were not to be seen.

One member explained that many among those who were in service during those years are no more. May Allah bless their souls. RIP for the non-Muslims.

I recall having served in the Royal Customs Department in Ipoh in 1960s in what was then called the “Preventive Service”. Actually, it was more to arrest the smugglers and illicit alcohol brewers.

Then I was given the acting post of Superintendent for Kedah North, which included Perlis, in charge of both revenue and preventive (or later known as anti-smuggling).

I can remember many names because we worked well together and were honest in our performance. Many who passed on were in their pensions or savings.

Nowadays when we read of “RM2 billion illegal collections by Customs officers”, “Cash of RM200,000 found in a Customs Officer’s bedroom” or other similar corrupt deals involving Customs Officers, including an “honest Customs Officer found murdered by suspects in fraudulent Customs transactions” in the news…we, the old members, feel both bad and ashamed.

But such matters were not discussed or raised at the triennial meeting. Only restricted to the usual “AGM matters”. These were to include a speech by the current Director-General Royal Customs Malaysia and the Deputy Minister of Finance. Both did not materialise as the DG arrived early at 11am although she was slated to speak at 12.30pm but she had to leave, perhaps due to some pressing matters. No mention of the Deputy Minister.

The meeting voted in a new team of office bearers. The new line-up has Dato’ Abdul Rahman Manan as President and Dato’ Ja’apar Mansor as Secretary. The Council also includes a vice president, assistant secretary, treasurer and his assistant plus seven committee members. All promised to give their best to serve the members well.

Before the meeting ended, each state representative was invited to give a short speech. All thanked the organising committee for the delicious Raya meal and for the cheerful camaraderie during the morning and afternoon sessions.

(Dato’ Syed Ahmad Idid, a former judge, also served in the Royal Customs Department in the mid-1960s).