Masing: Sarawak to beef up border security with Kalimantan

Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing

By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, Jan 18: Sarawak Government is taking a preemptive move to strengthen its border security with Kalimantan in anticipation of Indonesia’s planned shifting of its capital to East Kalimantan.

Deputy Chief Minister and chairman of the State Border Security Committee (SBSC) Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing said among the measures to be considered by the government would be building more CIQs along the porous border where more than 70 illegal rat and elephant trails have been identified.

“What we are at now is various measures to prevent illegal border crossings between Sarawak and Kalimantan. So, we will have to put in place short-term, medium-term and long-term measures to address this pertinent issue,” Masing told DayakDaily today.

For the immediate plan, Masing said, he will be visiting border posts starting tomorrow to ascertain the kind of assets the security forces would need to carry out their tasks.

“Depending on the terrains, we will acquire assets such as scramblers, four-wheel drive vehicles and drones so that out security forces could be more effective in securing our border,” he said.

As for the medium-term measure, Masing who is also the Minister of Infrastructure and Port Development said, the government planned to build an additional 20 customs, immigration and quarantine complex (CIQs) along the border to regulate border crossings.

“But before we build the new CIQs, we will have to study where are the main routes being used by people from the other side to cross over. So, we will have to study and identify their major settlements near the border. Only then we can ascertain where the CIQs could be built,” he said.

As for the long term, Masing asserted that the Government did not discount the possibilities of erecting fences along the border where it is most porous especially when the border areas are covered with palm oil plantations.

“In six years’ time, we have to have tight security along our border when Indonesia will move to its new capital to East Kalimantan. Beside fencing at strategic places, we will also need to have border security road which will span from the south to the north. This way, we can provide tighter security along our border,” he said.

Masing pointed out that one of the reasons that Sarawak needs to tighten up its border area is due to the recent spike in Covid-19 cases.

During SBSC meeting recently, Masing said, based on the reports by the Medical Department of Sarawak, the police and the Immigration Department, about 70 per cent of Covid-19 related cases in Sarawak were imported cases.

As such he said, it was crucial for Sarawak to beef up its border security measures to curb the problem of illegal border crossings.

“This means that all the relevant enforcement agencies including the police, the general operations force (GOF), army, Customs and Immigration departments need to carry out more operation work,” Masing stressed.

“In remote border posts like Tapak Megah and Pandora, the main concern is more towards smuggling of goods or even drugs. And I suggest establishing ‘ConnectMe’ broadband facilities for these posts which are not reachable by other telecommunication means,” added Masing. — DayakDaily