Building CIQ at Tapak Megah critical to curb rabies, Covid-19

Murum assemblyman Kennedy Chukpai Ugon (left) and Belaga assemblyman Datuk Liwan Lagang.

By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, July 17: The establishment of a customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) complex at Tapak Megah is of paramount importance to ensure dreaded diseases such as rabies, Covid-19 and slew of other social problems could be contained, said Belaga assemblyman Datuk Liwan Lagang.

To start with, he proposed that the logging road along the border at Tapak Megah be upgraded so that the CIQ and other facilities for security personnel manning the CIQ could be built soonest possible.

“It should take off as soon as possible, taking into account of the rabies outbreak and the Covid-19 pandemic (because) as of now, there is nothing to stop them (people from Kalimantan, Indonesia).

“And the place where they can come to chop their passports is in Kapit Town, which is hundreds of kilometres away. Let’s say they are positive Covid-19, then they are bringing it to Kapit already,” Liwan told DayakDaily here today.

He pointed out that the construction of a CIQ is urgent as it could deter people from criss-crossing the border including smugglers.

“Intrusion from the (Indonesian) armies is less now but intrusion by rabies and Covid-19 pandemic is the most dangerous attack that we have (to tackle) and we don’t know as those people in the rural areas have no medical facilities, no facilities to check whether they are healthy or not. And the nearest hospital is in Kapit. As for Belaga and Sg Asap, the nearest hospital is in Bintulu,” he said.

Liwan, who is also Assistant Minister of Utilities (Rural Electrification) said that the people who live near the border especially at Long Nawang, Kalimantan are Kayans and Kenyahs, but they still buy their provisions from Sarawak.

“People from the other side, especially from Long Nawang get most of their daily needs from Sarawak. Their border post from Long Nawang is less than an hour. Of course, they are our brothers and sisters, fellow Kayans and Kenyahs. But we have been segregated and divided by an international border. And they have a set of constitution and so do we,” he stressed.

Besides disease, Liwan also highlighted that social issues such as smuggling activities are rampant at the border as reported by Hulu Rajang MP Datuk Wilson Ugak Kumbong and the police personnel who patrolled the area during the MCO recently.

“For the long term, we must have good road there in order to provide proper facilities for those who man the CIQ. No one will serve there if they are left isolated, risking their lives without proper facilities such as health clinic,” he said.

Liwan also reiterated that it was high time for Sarawak to revive the Border Scout and the Sarawak Rangers to man its borders as they were effective during the confrontation period before they were disbanded in the 80s.

“Also, this is high time for us to revive our Border Scout or Sarawak rangers again. If Johor can have its own army why can’t we. After all we are in the same country. There cannot be two sets of rules in one country. Of course, provided it is in the constitution,” he added.

Liwan was commenting on Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing’s proposal to set up a CIQ at Tapak Megah as well as constructing a border security road to protect Sarawak’s multi-billion ringgit hydroelectric power (HEP) dams which are located not far from the border.

Among the mega HEP dams located in Ulu Kapit are the Bakun HEP which has a installed capacity of 2,400 MW, Murum HEP (944 MW) and the under-construction Baleh HEP dam.

Meanwhile, when contacted Murum Assemblyman Kennedy Chukpai Ugon said he also supported Masing’s proposal to construct the border security road.

“It is crucial and vital to protect these valuable assets, such as the Bakun HEP Dam, Murum HEP Dam, the under-construction Baleh HEP Dam and the Batang Ai HEP Dam, as they are all located near the border,” said Kennedy. —DayakDaily