KUCHING (Jan 13): Sarawak is looking at acquiring the more aggressive patrol vehicles like scramblers, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and four-wheel drive (4X4) as well as the use of high-capacity drones to beef up its border security, said Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing.
In order to achieve this, he said the Sarawak Border Security Committee (SBSC) will work very closely with State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) to assist in funding for the procurement of the necessary machinery and equipment for enforcers to ensure more aggressive monitoring at the border.
Masing, who today chaired SBSC’s first meeting for this year, said he was concerned about the issue of illegal immigrants entering Sarawak particularly with the current spike of Covid-19 cases in the state.
“From the reports by the Health Department, Malaysian police and Immigration Department, about 70 per cent of Covid-19 related cases in Sarawak are imported cases.
“It is therefore crucial for Sarawak to beef up its border security measures in order to reduce the possibility of the spread of the virus and also to curb the problem of smuggling at the border,” he said today.
Masing also said another measure that the SBSC is taking to fortify border security is to increase and intensify monitoring and enforcement efforts along the border with Kalimantan, Indonesia.
He stressed this means that all the relevant enforcement agencies, including the police and its General Operations Force (PGA), Malaysia Armed Forces, Royal Customs Department and Immigration Department need to carry out more operation work.
Masing further reiterated that until and unless border security is strengthened, it is almost impossible to flatten the curve of the virus infection.
In order to ensure safety of the enforcement team as well as to facilitate smooth communication between the border and their respective headquarters, he called on for a good communication network to be put in place.
“In remote border posts like Tapak Megah and Pandora the main concern is more towards smuggling of goods or even drugs. And I suggest establishing ConnectMe Now broadband facilities for these posts which are not reachable by other telecommunication means,” he said.
According to Masing, another area of vital concern is the issue of illegal immigrants entering Sarawak through the Lundu and Biawak border areas.
He said these illegal immigrants (Pati) would then travel to different parts of the state like Sibu and Kuching in search of work.
“We need to nail down the mastermind and the ‘tekong’ in order to stop this infiltration of Pati, which I view as serious as human trafficking.
“The punishment for such crime can amount to 20 years imprisonment term, if found guilty. That should speak volumes of the seriousness of the crime,” said Masing, who is also Minister for Infrastructure and Ports Development.
He also said that on the part of SBSC, they will have weekly meetings starting this week to ensure updates are communicated and efforts by all agencies are coordinated and synchronised well.
Among those present at today’s meeting were Infrastructure and Port Development Ministry permanent secretary Datu Safri Zainudin, Sarawak Commisioner of Police Datuk Aidi Ismail, Third Brigade Commander Datuk Azhar Ahmad and PGA Sarawak Commander SAC Mancha Ata.
Also in attendance were Security and Enforcement Unit deputy director Datuk Mohamad Morshidi Mustapa, State Director of Security Sophian Isswandy, Sarawak health director Dr Chin Zin Hing, and representatives from Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, Royal Malaysian Customs Department and Immigration Department.[Source: “Masing: Sarawak looking at acquiring scramblers, ATVs, 4X4, drones to beef up border security” published by BorneoPost]