Aspirasi calls on govt to use drones for state border patrolling

Lina Soo

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KUCHING, Dec 24: Sarawak People’s Aspiration Party (Aspirasi) is calling the State government to deploy drones to enhance border patrol surveillance as a measure in tackling Sarawak’s perennial problem of illegal crossings from Kalimantan.

Describing the Sarawak-Kalimantan border as a “no man’s land”, its president Lina Soo pointed out that the international boundary was a porous border peppered with numerous “jalan tikus” and “jalan gajah” where foreigners without proper papers can easily sneak into Sarawak.

“These illegal foreigners found to be carrying the Covid-19 virus are a real threat to the people of Sarawak who are battling to keep Sarawak green,” she said in a statement today in responding to the recently reported cases of Covid-19 positive individuals who had entered Sarawak illegally from Kalimantan according to the Ministry of Health (MOH).

Soo emphasised that the Sarawak-Kalimantan border was too permeable and porous to survey and maintain with conventional methods which were demonstrated in the remarks by Border Security Committee chairman Tan Sri Dr James Masing Jemut that at least RM24 billion was needed to build a border security road, not to mention the expense of manpower required to patrol the border the conventional way.

“Drones can provide a 24-hour ‘eye in the sky’ vision seven days a week, to curb illegal crossings. Each drone can stay aloft for many hours at a time, loitering over an area and sending back real-time imagery of activities on the ground.

“They weigh less than five pounds, are easily deployable and function with precision. Drones can act like a hi-tech ranger, monitoring wide expanses of land to intercept the illegal movement of people,” she said.

Drone technology, she continued, can track illegal crossings to catch undocumented immigrants in the act, curbing illegal crossing while at the same time, reduce cost, time and stress to levels never ever imagined possible.

Soo viewed the international boundary at Telok Melano border which bears witness to the seemingly casual and nonchalant crossings of the people from both sides of the border as alarming and cause for security concern.

She also expresses dismay at the Sarawak government’s decision to allow companies to bring in foreign workers during a time of pandemic when many nations are imposing stricter lockdowns.

“This a premature and ill-conceived move, at a critical juncture where Covid-19 has already spread to 218 countries, with a more contagious and dangerous Covid-19 strain – B.1.1.7 which is 70 per cent more transmissible, making the circuit.

“With a population of just 2.8 million Sarawakians, this is a risky decision with too much at stake to expose our people,” she warned

Hence, Soo wants the Sarawak government to reverse its decision to allow in foreigners until vaccination has proven to be effective and herd immunity has been achieved. -Dayakdaily