By Mohd Fakri Awang Lah
KOTA BHARU (Bernama) -- Blinded by his greed to make a fast buck, Mat (not his real name) was willing to risk his job as a member of the border security forces to traffic in drugs.
The long arm of the law eventually caught up with Mat, who is now in his 30s. It was whilst languishing in a prison in Thailand that he repented and turned over a new leaf.
It all started about 12 years ago when he was posted to the Malaysian-Thai border in 2007 to patrol the border area. There, in the small Thai town of Danok, he stumbled on a quick way to earn some money – peddling syabu (methamphetamine) in view of the high demand for the synthetic drug in the neighbouring country.
In Thailand, said Mat, just a single gramme of syabu costs about RM600. Since syabu was easily available in the area where he patrolled, he himself became a drug user and turned to trafficking it when he realised the returns were lucrative.
"I didn't have to use a single sen of my money to buy the drug as it was supplied to me by the kingpins who smuggled prohibited substances across the border," he related to Bernama.
Mat, who is married to a Thai woman and has a 11-year-old daughter, said he sold syabu at various entertainment centres in Danok for seven years before he was arrested by Thai police in April 2013. He was eventually sentenced to three years in jail and fined 200,000 baht (about RM20,000 based on the exchange rate then). He was imprisoned in Natthawi Prison in the Songkhla province.
Mat, who now works as a security guard in Kelantan, said it was fortunate that he obtained royal pardon which saw his prison term shortened to two years, six months and two days.
"Earlier, while waiting for my case to be heard in court, I spent 72 days in a temporary cell. It was my first time in jail and my whole world came crashing down around me. I thought about a lot of things...," he said.
His life changed one Friday while he was doing some tailoring work in prison.
"I heard someone whispering... telling me to perform my Friday prayers. That was when I started my journey to become a better person. Fortunately, at Natthawi Prison, a special cell is provided for Muslims to perform their prayers without any disturbance," he said.
While still in prison, Mat also fasted for eight months to "replace all those days when I failed to fast".
Mat, who speaks Thai fluently, is also grateful that his wife and family members from Kelantan visited him several times while he was in prison. However, he did not get to meet his daughter as he himself forbade his wife from bringing the girl, who was only about five years old then, to the prison.
During his imprisonment, disciplinary officers from the Malaysian border patrol forces visited Mat to hand over a show-cause letter and job termination letter to him.
"I'm grateful that in my service record, it is stated that I was dismissed because I faced 13 counts of not reporting for duty. This allowed me to find a job after I was released from prison in November 2015," he added.
Recalling his wayward behaviour, Mat said despite being a member of the security forces he went to the extent of breaking the law to support his craving for a life of luxury.
"While on duty at the border, there were occasions when I allowed smugglers to go free after demanding payment from them.
"Initially, I used drugs and was a gambler as well, so my salary was insufficient to meet my needs. This is the reason I began to indulge in illegal activities," he said.
Mat also urged the public to avoid falling into the trap of unhealthy activities, adding that they should learn from his experience.
"It would have been far better for me if I had remained loyal to my work as I could have enjoyed all the privileges given to civil servants. Anyway, I cannot turn the clock back and can only accept it as my fate," he said.
Translated by Rema Nambia
Malaysia National News Agency
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