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By Peter Sibon
KUCHING, May 26: The implementation of the Border Security Highway has been rescheduled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, reveals Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of Infrastructure and Port Development Tan Sri James Jemut Masing
“JKR (Public Works Department) has proposed the border highway alignment and the government had agreed. But due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we may have to reconsider the schedule of implementation,” Masing told DayakDaily when contacted today.
The proposed Border Security Highway has been identified as a long-term plan to provide better security along the more than 1,000km-long border between Sarawak and Kalimantan.
Masing asserted that having the Border Security Highway would be the most practical solution for the Malaysian government to protect strategic assets such as the four hydroelectric power (HEPs) plants at Bakun, Murum, Baleh and Batang Ai.
“And at the same time, it would allow the most remote areas of Sarawak to be accessible and also we can develop these areas,” he added.
To provide better security once the road is completed, the government could then build more Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complexes (CIQs) at strategic sites especially near HEPs.
“The Sarawak border is also the Malaysian border. So, it’s crucial for the federal government to build it as soon as possible as we do not want the 1963-1966 Confrontation to repeat itself. ‘
“Currently, Indonesia is ruled by a friendly president Joko Widodo but we can’t predict the future,” Masing opined.
As for short-term border security measures, Masing, who is also the chairman of the state Border Security Committee asserted the federal government must provide enough security personnel to monitor the many illegal trails commonly known as ‘jalan tikus’ to prevent the entry of individuals from neighbouring countries who may be Covid-19 positive as the pandemic is expected to reach its peak sometimes in June.
“Two weeks ago, I predicted that when Covid-19 peaks in June, Sarawak had better watch out. The border must be very secured.
“For this, we will seek the assistance of the federal government to send in more security personnel to man our border as and when there is need because once Indonesia is attacked by Covid-19, it will be difficult to contain. The vastness of the country makes containment of Covid-19 very difficult. The figures shown would not give the true reflection of those infected,” he added. — DayakDaily