Countdown on to close down illegal routes at Kalimantan-Sarawak border before Covid-19 peaks in Indonesia

Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing

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By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, Apr 7: Sarawak needs to tighten its porous border with Kalimantan to prevent the spread of Covid-19 to Sarawak as the pandemic is expected to reach its peak in the Indonesian republic in a few weeks’ time.

Chairman of the Border security committee for Sarawak Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing said what worried him were the many illegal routes along the border, colloquially called ‘jalan gajah’ and ‘jalan tikus’.

“The 900km of land border with Kalimantan is very worrying because it’s very porous, and it is this border that we need to guard when coronavirus hit Indonesia in a few weeks’ time.

“We must stop the spread of imported Covid-19 by stopping our neighbours from coming in at this time, by closing all our border posts including ‘jalan gajah’ and ‘jalan tikus’ temporarily until this Covid-19 pandemic is stopped,” Masing told DayakDaily today.

He was glad that so far, the security forces manning the border areas had done a fantastic job in securing the border.

“Nevertheless we can’t afford to relax within the next two months because Covid-19 is spreading very fast to these part of the world.

“As the Chairman of Border security committee for Sarawak, I’m very happy to note that IGP, Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador is greatly concerned about the security of our border posts during Covid-19 pandemic. We are assured, by him of more personnel will be deployed along our entry points either by sea or land,” said Masing.

The deputy chief minister was commenting on news reports that the IGP had announced today a 100 per cent increase in police personnel for border control, in a bid to prevent Covid-19 from entering Malaysia through illegal immigrants.

Abdul Hamid said the existing deployment of over 2,500 personnel of various ranks assigned to patrol the nation’s land and water borders would be doubled, following discussions with the Armed Forces chief at the Defence Ministry earlier today.

“We embrace the statement issued by the Health Ministry stating that Malaysia could suffer a third wave of Covid-19 infections, which we expect would be carried by visitors entering the country using illegal routes.

“Certainly, their presence in the country without proper screening process poses a very high risk and embracing the ministry’s statement, we will further tighten our border controls,” Abdul Hamid was quoted today.

He said he had a fruitful discussion with the Armed Forces chief and generals of the three military branches on the deployment of police personnel throughout the peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak.

Last month, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah made the grim prediction as he reminded Malaysians to stay at home as much as possible to avoid Covid-19 from continuing to spread.

On April 2, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob reiterated that all Malaysians and visitors returning from overseas would have to undergo a compulsory 14-day quarantine order beginning April 3.

This meant that all returning Malaysians or foreign visitors who enter the country will be subjected to the quarantine procedure at all entry points before being transported to the quarantine centres.—DayakDaily