Villagers living near border areas advised to be careful when venturing into jungle

Datuk Snowdan Lawan - file pic

By Nigel Edgar

KUCHING, Dec 24: Balai Ringin assemblyman Datuk Snowdan Lawan today advised his constituents living near the Sarawak-Indonesia border to take precautions and also be mindful and respect the integrity of the country’s boundary with Indonesia and vice versa.

Acknowledging the need for some locals to harvest wood as building materials or even to go hunting, he said it would be wise to consult their village headmen first or go to the nearest District Office or police station to ascertain the exact boundary of the state before venturing into the wild.

Snowdan was commenting on the incident where five Sarawakians were abducted by Indonesian soldiers on Dec 11 near Kampung Danau Melikin, some 400m from the Serian-Kalimantan border.

Two of the hostages were released that same day, while the remaining three were released the next day after a negotiation between the 3rd Infantry Brigade Kuching and Tentera Nasional Indonesia (TNI).

“I strongly believe that they (kidnapped Sarawakians) are good citizens and would not cross the line. The jungles and boundaries are something familiar to them. Over the years, I have not encountered cases such as this. They are law-abiding citizens and would confine themselves to our country’s territory.

“However, in the future, for those who wish to pick and harvest wood, or go hunting for that matter, I wish to advise them to take precautions, be mindful and respect the integrity of our country’s boundary with Indonesia and vice versa,” he told DayakDaily today.

Snowdan, who is also Assistant Minister of Youth and Sports, said the TNI personnel, like their Malaysian counterpart, were also guarding their territory.

“I can understand that it could be a matter of butter and bread for some. More often than not, for some of the villagers, wood is needed for house construction and dwelling purposes.

“Nevertheless, safety should come first and should take priority. Refer to the village headmen, the nearest district office or police station to ascertain the exact boundary of our state and that of our Indonesian counterparts before venturing into the wild.”

He was glad that the incident had been resolved amicably and expediently by both governments via diplomatic negotiations.

“That’s the beauty of ASEAN member nations. Salute and thankful to the cooperation of both governments. The message here is this: do work hard to earn a living, but at the same time, be safe.

“Don’t let your loved ones wait in despair. Accidents do happen unplanned and without notice,” said Snowdan.

Jakarta today issued an apology to Putrajaya, assuring that the incident would not repeat.

Indonesia has informed Wisma Putra that its soldiers were wrong, and it acknowledged Malaysia’s protest note on the incursion involving two TNI personnel on Malaysian territory.

Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Marzuki Yahya said the Malaysian government appreciated Indonesia’s positive response to Malaysia’s protest against the alleged kidnapping.

He said Jakarta would make an effort to prevent a recurrence of the incident as it was a violation of Malaysia’s sovereignty.— DayakDaily