KUCHING – Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing has directed for the Malaysia-Indonesia border security patrol to be beefed up to curb the influx of illegal immigrants into Sarawak following the spike in COVID-19 cases in Indonesia.
He said the Armed Forces as well as border enforcement agencies like the General Operation Force (GOF) and the Immigration Department need to intensify their surveillance on the illegal trails or locally know as “jalan tikus” (rat trails) along the international boundary.
“This must be prevented at all costs. That is why we must secure the hundreds of ‘jalan tikus’ (along the Malaysia-Indonesia border). I have asked the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF), GOF and Immigration Department to be on alert,” he said in a statement issued today.
As the minister in charge of security in Sarawak, Masing said he was concerned over a NikkeiASIA’s portal report last week which said that Java had been imposing regional lockdowns after 12,624 new cases of COVID-19 were detected with 107 of them being of the Delta variant from India, which is considered highly infectious.
He said that some of the foreigners who encroached into Sarawak via the Malaysia-Indonesia border could be coming from Java or neighbouring Indonesian islands carrying this deadly variant, where they had to be stopped before crossing the border.
Masing admitted that the task of monitoring the border would not be easy considering the length of the border line that had to be covered by the enforcement personnel but he was satisfied that so far they had fulfilled their responsibilities judging by the numbers of illegal immigrant that they had caught in the last few months.
He said the Sarawak Government had also equipped these personnel with all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), scrambler motorcycles, drones and telecommunication equipment, among others, to facilitate their tasks of guarding the border.
“What worries me is that according to the MAF, GOF and Immigration Department, the illegal immigrants, who came through hundreds of jalan tikus, keep coming back within days after being deported,” he said, as he repeated his previous suggestion for fences to be built at strategic places along the Malaysia-Indonesia border to curb such intrusion.