Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Masing
KUCHING: Sarawak is considering allocating more resources for intelligence-centric projects to curb threats posed by illegal immigrants entering the state, said Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Masing.
In a statement issued after chairing the fourth Border Security Control Committee meeting for this year here yesterday, he said the committee had discussed ways to halt the activities of ‘tekongs’ (agents) who arranged for illegal immigrants to sneak into Sarawak for various purposes.
He said the enforcement agencies including the police, General Operations Force, army, Immigration Department and Customs Department have been working around the clock to address such issues.
“The authorities have had to conduct snap-check operations to catch those involved off guard as scheduled roadblocks do not seem to deter these illegal activities.
“This is why more resources need to be allocated for integrated intelligence projects between the agencies involved. Hopefully, we can gain information and strategise to prevent these illegal activities,” he said.
Masing, who heads the committee, said illegal immigrants either sneak into the state to seek employment or do business, but there were also those involved in smuggling subsidised goods into neighbouring Kalimantan, Indonesia.
According to him, the tekongs seem to be involved in a lucrative business of transporting illegal immigrants from Indonesia to Sarawak.
“What’s even worse is that there are employers and legal foreign workers who are harbouring these PATIs,” he added, using the Malay acronym for illegal immigrants.
Meanwhile, an officer from the Ministry of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development said there were 699 large plantations located at the state’s border with Kalimantan, with the largest number in Miri followed by Bintulu and Mukah.
“Last year, the total number of foreign workers in the plantation sector in Sarawak was 68,960.
“In Miri alone, there were more than 16,000 foreign workers while in Bintulu and Mukah, the numbers were around 15,000 and 10,000 respectively,” said the officer.
The officer added the ministry had drawn up a site surveillance plan for the agro-community sector which aims to, among other things, ensure that all plantations comply with the Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOP) set by the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee to create more awareness regarding the matter among industry players and workers.
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