Malaysia

Customs officer’s murder related to car smuggling in Langkawi, says son

BY DIYANA IBRAHIM
August 24, 2013
Latest Update: August 24, 2013 07:13 pm

Shaharuddin Ibrahim was gunned down in Putrajaya days before the general election. August 24, 2013.Shaharuddin Ibrahim was gunned down in Putrajaya days before the general election. August 24, 2013.The family of a top Malaysian Customs officer believes his murder in Putrajaya in April is linked to a car smuggling syndicate based on the duty-free island of Langkawi.

Royal Malaysian Customs deputy director-general II Datuk Shaharuddin Ibrahim was shot dead in the country's administrative capital on April 26, just weeks before gun-related violence spiked in the country.

“My father’s murder was planned. It was related to a car smuggling syndicate in Langkawi,” Mohd Akhtar Shaharuddin told The Malaysian Insider this week.

He was also certain that the mastermind was someone in the Customs department.

“I am sure of this, even if the police deny it,” the 30-year-old architect said.

“My father had previously told his superiors of corrupt Customs officers in their midst, claiming that they were linked to a car smuggling racket in Langkawi.

“Soon after he made this accusation, he received a transfer letter. The letter, however, was pulled back when the Customs union intervened and fought his case,” he said.

One month later, Shaharuddin was shot dead as he was being driven to his office in Putrajaya.

“So if you were in my spot, what would you think?" Mohd Akhtar said.

And what irks him even more is that there appears to be no progress in the investigations.

Breaking his silence on the murder for the first time, Mohd Akhtar said his father had received a call from a reporter who asked about a car smuggling syndicate in Langkawi several weeks before he was shot dead.

The country's third-most senior customs officer then visited Langkawi to investigate.

“He was a strict man who never spoke about work at home. But my mother told me that a reporter did call my father to ask him about the syndicate in Langkawi,” said Mohd Akhtar.

He, however, did not know if his father spoke to the reporter after returning from Langkawi.

He also revealed his father had received many threats, including a bullet that was once sent to their home.

He said he was coming forward now as he was disappointed with how the police were handling the case.

“It has been four months since my father was murdered and the police has not come back to us with any concrete leads," he said.

The last time Mohd Akhtar met the police was during the Ramadan fasting month after his repeated pleas for investigation updates.

“In the days following his death, I had only met the police about three times. A month after the shooting, they went completely silent.

“This seems to have now become a cold case, like they have abandoned the investigations.”

He said the lack of progress was totally unjust especially when his father, a senior civil servant, had contributed so much towards the country.

“We are talking about the murder of a deputy director-general. Why must we be treated this way?”

All Mohd Akhtar wants now is justice for his father, whom he described as an honest man.

“He was a dedicated and honest officer who had never taken advantage of the privileges that he had although he could have done so,” he said.

Shaharuddin, who headed the Customs and Internal Tax Unit division, was a year away from retirement when he was shot on April 26.

The Negri Sembilan-born Shaharuddin served the department for over 30 years where his work earned him the moniker "Mr Clean".

He was seated in the front passenger seat of a four-wheel-drive when it stopped at a traffic light junction. A motorcyle drew up alongside and the pillion rider opened fire, shooting the Customs officer three times.

Kuala Lumpur Criminal Investigations Department chief Datuk Ku Chin Wah has reportedly denied any link between the car smuggling ring in Langkawi and Shaharuddin’s murder.

“The reports are just mere speculation,” Ku said.

Earlier reports stated that police questioned more than 35 people, including Customs officers, and detained two men for further investigation.

One was a businessman and the other a car spare parts dealer. Both were later released on bail.

Ku, when contacted again following these latest revelations, said, "We are still investigating”.

The shooting occurred just before the 13th general elections. There was all-round shock as it involved a senior civil servant.

Following Shaharuddin's case, the country saw almost 35 shootings nationwide which resulted in 22 deaths. - August 24, 2013.