Uggah: Community leaders can be shields along border to fight Covid-19

Uggah (centre) at the Old State Assembly Complex in Kuching today (Jan 11, 2021).

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By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, Jan 11:  Sarawak Disaster Management Committee is calling for all community leaders to be a shield along the border to prevent the entries of illegal immigrants.

Its chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said illegal immigrants have been a source of Covid-19 cases in Sarawak as many of them have been tested positive.

“This is what we fear, that many of them are still moving around in Kuching.  Some work as fishermen, or they work as plantation workers,” said Uggah at a Covid-19 press conference at the Old State Assembly Complex here today.

He said due to the existence of many “jalan tikus” (illegal cross border trails), it has been difficult to stop these illegal immigrants from entering Sarawak.

“Illegal immigrants are one of the sources (of Covid-19).  If we close that door, and they could not enter, then we can reduce the number of cases.  But in Sarawak, we have a problem. There are many jalan tikus,” said Uggah who is Deputy Chief Minister.

Apart from illegal immigrants, there are also illegal entry of Sarawakians into Indonesia without the knowledge of both authorities.

Citing the recent Covid-19 case involving an elderly from a remote longhouse in Sri Aman, he said the person lives near the border and has been going in and out of Indonesia at his will and “Covid saw him and took a ride with him.”

Uggah said this is the situation that SDMC is trying to prevent – to stop movement across the border.

“That is why here today, I am appealing to all the community leaders of villages, longhouses or town areas. Community leaders, we need you to cooperate with us, we need you to work together with us. All community leaders have a very important role to play to ensure that their villagers are protected.

“If they can become a shield along the border, I am sure the task will be a lot easier.  We know sometimes, it is difficult because we have such a long relationship with the other side. We have relatives, even farms there but during this Covid time, please stay in Sarawak,” said Uggah.

He called on all community leaders to tell their villagers not to cross over to Indonesia at will for the time being and report to the authorities should they spot any unfamiliar faces in their villages, or longhouse settlements or small towns along the borders.

“If you people happen to notice strangers whom you do not know appearing in your place or town areas, please report it to the police,” said Uggah.

Citing a case at Pusa, he said the Penghulu of Pusa saw a female stranger in a coffee shop and reported to the police. The police looked into the case and found out that the woman was an illegal immigrant.

“This is the part which we want the community leaders to play.  This is a joint battle for all of us,” said Uggah. — DayakDaily