KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) _ Malaysia is on the alert against hoarding and smuggling before the price of sugar goes up 21 percent next month, a result of Southeast Asia's currency crisis.

Customers have been accusing retailers of hoarding sugar as they wait for prices to rise on Feb. 1. Sugar retailers, in turn, blame their customers for buying huge amounts before the price rise.

And because of the perceived shortage, Malaysians also are worried about a rush by residents of neighboring Singapore, where sugar costs four times as much, to buy in Malaysia while the lower prices last.

Officials will be watching on the two bridges linking Malaysia and Singapore, the newspaper Star reported Sunday, and police, soldiers and a corps of army volunteers will be deployed elsewhere along the border.

The newspaper Sun quoted Megat Junid Megat Ayob, Malaysia's minister of domestic trade and consumer affairs, as promising punishment for carrying large amounts of sugar across the border, and rewards for informants against smugglers.